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OB. A.D. 1892. 













Printed in Great Britain by T. and A. CONSTABLE LTD 
at the Edinburgh University Press 









II. THE CARPET-BAG ...... 8 

III. THE SPOUTER-INN . . . . . . 13 

IV. THE COUNTERPANE . . . . . 31 
V. BREAKFAST ...... 36 

VI. THE STREET . . . . . 39 

VII. THE CHAPEL . . . . . . 42 

VIII. THE PULPIT ....... 46 

IX. THE SERMON ...... 49 

X. A BOSOM FRIEND ...... 60 



XIII. WHEELBARROW . . . . . . 71 

XIV. NANTUCKET ....... 77 

XV. CHOWDER ....... 80 


XVII. THE RAMADAN ...... 102 

XVHI. HIS MARK ....... 110 

XIX. THE PROPHET . . . . . .115 

XX. ALL ASTIR ....... 119 

XXI. GOING ABOARD ...... 122 


XXIII. THE LEE SHORE . . . . . .132 

XXIV. THE ADVOCATE . . . . . .134 

XXV. POSTSCRIPT . . . . . 140 



XXVIII. AHAB ....... 151 





XXX. THE PIPE ...... 160 


XXXII. CETOLOGY . . . . . .164 



XXXV. THE MAST-HEAD . . . . .191 

XXXVII. SUNSET . . . . . . . 209 




XLI. MOBY-DICK ...... 222 



XLIV. THE CHART ...... 247 

XLV. THE AFFIDAVIT ...... 254 




XLIX. THE HYENA ...... 286 



MI. THE ALBATROSS ...... 298 

Mil. THE GAM 301 







LX. THE LINE . 353 






THE pale Usher threadbare in coat, heart, body, and brain ; 
I see him now. He was ever dusting his old lexicons and 
grammars, with a queer handkerchief, mockingly embellished 
with all the gay flags of all the known nations of the world. 
He loved to dust his old grammars ; it somehow mildly 
reminded him of his mortality. 


' WHILE you take in hand to school others, and to teach 
them by what name a whale-fish is to be called in our tongue, 
leaving out, through ignorance, the letter H, which almost 
alone maketh up the signification of the word, you deliver 
that which is not true.' Hakluyt. 

1 WHALE. * * * Sw. and Dan. hval. This animal is 
named from roundness or rolling ; for in Dan. hvalt is arched 
or vaulted.' Webster's Dictionary. 

' WHALE. * * * It is more immediately from the Dut. 
and Ger. W alien ; A.S. Walw-ian y to roll, to wallow.' 

Richardson's Dictionary. 
























IT will be seen that this mere painstaking burrower and 
grub -worm of a poor devil of a Sub -Sub appears to have gone 
through the long Vaticans and street-stalls of the earth, pick- 
ing up whatever random allusions to whales he could anyways 
find in any book whatsoever, sacred or profane. Therefore 
you must not, in every case at least, take the higgledy-piggledy 
whale statements, however authentic, in these extracts, for 
veritable gospel cetology. Far from it. As touching the 
ancient authors generally, as well as the poets here appearing, 
these extracts are solely valuable or entertaining, as affording 
a glancing bird's-eye view of what has been promiscuously 
said, thought, fancied, and sung of Leviathan, by many 
nations and generations, including our own. 

So fare thee well, poor devil of a Sub-Sub, whose commen- 
tator I am. Thou belongest to that hopeless, sallow tribe 
which no wine of this world will ever warm ; and for whom 
even Pale Sherry would be too rosy-strong ; but with whom 
one sometimes loves to sit, and feel poor-devilish, too ; and 
grow convivial upon tears ; and say to them bluntly with full 
eyes and empty glasses, and in not altogether unpleasant 
sadness Give it up, Sub-Subs ! For by how much the more 
pains ye take to please the world, by so much the more shall 
ye forever go thankless ! Would that I could clear out 
Hampton Court and the Tuileries for ye ! But gulp down 
your tears and hie aloft to the royal-mast with your hearts ; 
for your friends who have gone before are clearing out the 
seven-storied heavens, and making refugees of long-pampered 
Gabriel, Michael, and Raphael, against your coming. Here 
ye strike but splintered hearts together there, ye shall 
strike unsplinterable glasses! 



' And God created great whales.' 


* Leviathan maketh a path to shine after him ; 
One would think the deep to be hoary.' 


' Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up 
Jonah.' Jonah. 

' There go the ships ; there is that Leviathan whom thou 
hast made to play therein.' Psalms. 

' In that day, the Lord with his sore, and great, and strong 
sword, shall punish Leviathan the piercing serpent, even 
Leviathan that crooked serpent ; and he shall slay the dragon 
that is in the sea.' Isaiah. 

* And what thing soever besides cometh within the chaos 
of this monster's mouth, be it beast, boat, or stone, down it 
goes all incontinently that foul great swallow of his, and 
perisheth in the bottomless gulf of his paunch.' 

HollancFs Plutarch's Morals. 

' The Indian Sea breedeth the most and the biggest fishes 
that are : among which the Whales and Whirlpooles called 
Balaene, take up as much in length as four acres or arpens of 
land.' Holland's Pliny. 

' Scarcely had we proceeded two days on the sea, when 
about sunrise a great many Whales and other monsters of 
the sea, appeared. Among the former, one was of a most 
monstrous size. * * * This came towards us, open- 
mouthed, raising the waves on all sides, and beating the sea 
before him into a foam.' 

Tooke's Lucian. The True History. 



' He visited this country also with a view of catching horse - 
whales, which had bones of very great value for their teeth, 
of which he brought some to the king. * * * The best 
whales were catched in his own country, of which some were 
forty-eight, some fifty yards long. He said that he was one 
of six who had killed sixty in two days.' 

Other or Octher's verbal narrative taken down 
from his mouth by King Alfred, A.D. 890. 

1 And whereas all the other things, whether beast or vessel, 
that enter into the dreadful gulf of this monster's (whale's) 
mouth, are immediately lost and swallowed up, the sea- 
gudgeon retires into it in great security, and there sleeps.' 
Montaigne 1 s Apology for Eaimond Sebond. 

' Let us fly, let us fly ! Old Nick take me if it is not 
Leviathan described by the noble prophet Moses in the life 
of patient Job.' Rabelais. 

' This whale's liver was two cart-loads.' 

Stowe's Annals. 

1 The great Leviathan that maketh the seas to seethe like 
boiling pan.' Lord Bacon's Version of the Psalms. 

' Touching that monstrous bulk of the whale or ork we 
have received nothing certain. They grow exceeding fat, 
insomuch that an incredible quantity of oil will be extracted 
out of one whale.' Ibid. History of Life and Death. 

1 The sovereignest thing on earth is parmacetti for an in- 
ward bruise.' King Henry. 

' Very like a whale.' Hamlet. 

' Which to secure, no skill of leach's art 
Mote him availle, but to returne againe 
To his wound's worker, that with lowly dart, 
Dinting his breast, had bred his restless paine, 
Like as the wounded whale to shore flies thro' the maine.' 

The Fairie Queen. 

' Immense as whales, the motion of whose vast bodies can 
in a peaceful calm trouble the ocean till it boil.' 

Sir William Davenant's Preface to Gondibert. 


' What spermaceti! is, men might justly doubt, since the 
learned Hosmannus in his work of thirty years, saith plainly, 
Nescio quid sit.' 

Sir T. Browne's Of Sperma Ceti and the 
Sperma Ceti Whale. Vide his V.E. 

' Like Spencer's Talus with his modern flail 

He threatens ruin with his ponderous tail. 

Their fixed jav'lins in his side he wears, 
And on his back a grove of pikes appears.' 

Waller's Battle of the Summer Islands. 

' By art is created that great Leviathan, called a Common- 
wealth or State (in Latin, Civitas) which is but an artificial 
man.' Opening sentence of Hobbes's Leviathan. 

'Silly Mansoul swallowed it without chewing, as if it had 
been a sprat in the mouth of a whale.' 

Pilgrim's Progress. 
* That sea beast 

Leviathan, which God of all his works 
Created hugest that swim the ocean stream.' 

Paradise Lost. 
4 There Leviathan, 

Hugest of living creatures, in the deep 
Stretched like a promontory sleeps or swims, 
And seems a moving land ; and at his gills 
Draws in, and at his breath spouts out a sea.' 


' The mighty whales which swim in a sea of water, and 
have a sea of oil swimming in them.' 

Fuller's Profane and Holy State. 
' So close behind some promontory lie 

The huge Leviathans to attend their prey, 
And give no chace, but swallow in the fry, 

Which through their gaping jaws mistake the way.' 
Dry den's Annus Mirabilis. 

' While the whale is floating at the stern of the ship, they 
cut off his head, and tow it with a boat as near the shore as it 
will come ; but it will be aground in twelve or thirteen feet 

Thomas Edge's Ten Voyages to Spitzbergen, in Purchas. 


* In their way they saw many whales sporting in the ocean, 
and in wantonness fuzzing up the water through their pipes 
and vents, which nature has placed on their shoulders.' 

Sir T. Herberts Voyages into Asia and Africa. Harris Coll. 

4 Here they saw such huge troops of whales, that they were 
forced to proceed with a great deal of caution for fear they 
should run their ship upon them.' 

Schouten's Sixth Circumnavigation. 

* We set sail from the Elbe, wind N.E. in the ship called 
The Jonas-in-the-Whale. * * * 

Some say the whale can't open his mouth, but that is a 
fable. * * * 

They frequently climb up the masts to see whether they 
can see a whale, for the first discoverer has a ducat for his 
pains. * * * 

I was told of a whale taken near Shetland, that had above 
a barrel of herrings in his belly. * * * 

One of our harpooneers told me that he caught once a 
whale in Spitzbergen that was white all over.' 

A Voyage to Greenland, A.D. 1671. Harris Coll. 

' Several whales have come in upon this coast (Fife). Anno 
1652, one eighty feet in length of the whale -bone kind came 
in, which, (as I was informed) besides a vast quantity of oil, 
did afford 500 weight of baleen. The jaws of it stand for a 
gate in the garden of Pitferren.' 

Sibbald's Fife and Kinross. 

4 Myself have agreed to try whether I can master and kill 
this Sperma-ceti whale, for I could never hear of any of that 
sort that was killed by any man, such is his fierceness and 

Richard Strafford's Letter from the Bermudas. 
Phil. Trans. A.D. 1668. 

' Whales in the sea 
God's voice obey.' 

N. E. Primer. 

1 We saw also abundance of large whales, there being more 
in those southern seas, as I may say, by a hundred to one ; 
than we have to the northward of us.' 

Captain Cowley's Voyage round the Globe, A.D. 1729. 


****** an( j ^e breath of the whale is fre- 
quently attended with such an insupportable smell, as to 
bring on a disorder of the brain.' 

Ulloa's South America. 

1 To fifty chosen sylphs of special note, 
We trust the important charge, the petticoat. 
Oft have we known that seven-fold fence to fail, 
Tho' stuffed with hoops and armed with ribs of whale.' 

Rape of the Lock. 

' If we compare land animals in respect to magnitude, with 
those that take up their abode in the deep, we shall find they 
will appear contemptible in the comparison. The whale is 
doubtless the largest animal in creation.' 

Goldsmith's Nat. Hist. 

' If you should write a fable for little fishes, you would 
make them speak like great whales.' 

Goldsmith to Johnson. 

' In the afternoon we saw what was supposed to be a rock, 
but it was found to be a dead whale, which some Asiatics had 
killed, and were then towing ashore. They seemed to en- 
deavour to conceal themselves behind the whale, in order to 
avoid being seen by us.' Cook's Voyages. 

' The larger whales, they seldom venture to attack. They 
stand in so great dread of some of them, that when out at 
sea they are afraid to mention even their names, and carry 
dung, lime-stone, juniper-wood, and some other articles of 
the same nature in their boats, in order to terrify and prevent 
their too near approach.' 

Uno Von Troil's Letters on Banks' s and 
Solander's Voyage to Iceland in 1772. 

' The Spermacetti Whale found by the Nantuckois, is 
an active, fierce animal, and requires vast address and bold- 
ness in the fishermen.' 

Thomas Jefferson's Whale Memorial to the 
French Minister in 1778. 

1 And pray, sir, what in the world is equal to it ? ' 

Edmund Burke's Reference in Parliament 

to the Nantucket Whale Fishery. 
VOL. I. b 

xviii MOBY-DICK 

' Spain a great whale stranded on. the shores of Europe.' 

Edmund Burke. (Somewhere.} 

' A tenth branch of the king's ordinary revenue, said to 
be grounded on the consideration of his guarding and pro- 
tecting the seas from pirates and robbers, is the right to 
royal fish, which are whale and sturgeon. And these, when 
either thrown ashore or caught near the coast, are the pro- 
perty of the king.' Blackstone. 

c Soon to the sport of death the crews repair : 
Rodmond unerring o'er his head suspends 
The barbed steel, and every turn attends.' 

Falconer's Shipwreck. 

' Bright shone the roofs, the domes, the spires, 

And rockets blew self driven, 
To hang their momentary fire 
Around the vault of heaven. 

' So fire with water to compare, 

The ocean serves on high, 

Up-spouted by a whale in air, 

To express unwieldy joy.' 

Cowper, On the Queen's Visit to London. 

' Ten or fifteen gallons of blood are thrown out of the heart 
at a stroke, with immense velocity.' 

John Hunter's Account of the Dissection 
of a Whale. (A small-sized one.) 

' The aorta of a whale is larger in the bore than the main 
pipe of the water- works at London Bridge, and the water 
roaring in its passage through that pipe is inferior in impetus 
and velocity to the blood gushing from the whale's heart.' 

Paley's Theology. 

' The whale is a mammiferous animal without hind feet.' 

Baron Cuvier. 

' In 40 degrees south, we saw Spermacetti Whales, but did 
not take any till the first of May, the sea being then covered 
with them.' 

Colnett's Voyage for the Purpose of Extending 
the Spermacetti Whale Fishery. 


' In the free element beneath me swam, 
Floundered and dived, in play, in chace, in battle, 
Fishes of every colour, form, and kind ; 
Which language cannot paint, and mariner 
Had never seen ; from dread Leviathan 
To insect millions peopling every wave : 
Gather'd in shoals immense, like floating islands, 
Led by mysterious instincts through that waste 
And trackless region, though on every side 
Assaulted by voracious enemies, 
Whales, sharks, and monsters, arm'd in front or jaw, 
With swords, saws, spiral horns, or hooked fangs.' 

Montgomery' '<$ World before the Flood. 

' lo ! Paean ! lo ! sing, 
To the finny people's king. 
Not a mightier whale than this 
In the vast Atlantic is ; 
Not a fatter fish than he, 
Flounders round the Polar Sea.' 

CJiarles Lamb's Triumph of the Whale. 

' In the year 1690 some persons were on a high hill observing 
the whales spouting and sporting with each other, when one 
observed ; there pointing to the sea is a green pasture 
where our children's grand-children will go for bread.' 

Obed Macy's History of Nantucket. 

' I built a cottage for Susan and myself and made a gateway 
in the form of a Gothic Arch, by setting up a whale's jaw 
bones.' Hawthorne's Twice-Told Tales. 

' She came to bespeak a monument for her first love, who 
had been killed by a whale in the Pacific ocean, no less than 
forty years ago.' Ibid. 

' " No, Sir, 'tis a Right Whale," answered Tom ; " I saw his 
spout ; he threw up a pair of as pretty rainbows as a Christian 
would wish to look at. He 's a raal oil-butt, that fellow ! " ' 

Cooper's Pilot. 

' The papers were brought in,, and we saw in the Berlin 
Gazette that whales had been introduced on the stage there.' 
Eckermanris Conversations with Goethe. 


' " My God ! Mr. Chace, what is the matter ? " I answered, 
" We have been stove by a whale." ! 

Narrative of the Shipwreck of the Whale Ship 
Essex of Nantucket, which was attacked and 
finally destroyed by a large Sperm Whale in 
the Pacific Ocean. By Owen Chace of Nan- 
tucket, first mate of said vessel. New York, 

' A mariner sat in the shrouds one night, 

The wind was piping free ; 

Now bright, now dimmed, was the moonlight pale, 
And the phospher gleamed in the wake of the whale, 
As it floundered in the sea.' 

Elizabeth Oakes Smith. 

' The quantity of line withdrawn from the different boats 
engaged in the capture of this one whale, amounted alto- 
gether to 10,440 yards or nearly six English miles. * * * 

t Sometimes the whale shakes its tremendous tail in the 
air, which, cracking like a whip, resounds to the distance of 
three or four miles.' Scoresby. 

1 Mad with the agonies he endures from these fresh attacks, 
the infuriated Sperm Whale rolls over and over ; he rears his 
enormous head, and with wide expanded jaws snaps at every- 
thing around him ; he rushes at the boats with his head ; 
they are propelled before him with vast swiftness, and some- 
times utterly destroyed. 

* * * It is a matter of great astonishment that the 
consideration of the habits of so interesting, and, in a com- 
mercial point of view, of so important an animal (as the Sperm 
Whale) should have been so entirely neglected, or should have 
excited so little curiosity among the numerous, and many of 
them competent observers, that of late years must have 
possessed the most abundant and the most convenient oppor- 
tunities of witnessing their habitudes. 5 

Thomas Beale's History of the Sperm Whale. 1839. 

' The Cachalot ' (Sperm Whale) ' is not only better armed 
than the True Whale ' (Greenland or Right Whale) ' in possess- 
ing a formidable weapon at either extremity of its body, 
but also more frequently displays a disposition to employ 
these weapons offensively, and in a manner at once so artful, 


bold, and mischievous, as to lead to its being regarded as the 
most dangerous to attack of all the known species of the 
whale tribe.' 

Frederick Debell Bennett's Whaling Voyage 
round the Globe. 1840. 

' October 13. " There she blows," was sung out from the 

" Where away ? " demanded the captain. 

" Three points off the lee bow, sir." 

" Raise up your wheel. Steady ! " 

" Steady, sir." 

" Mast-head ahoy ! Do you see that whale now ? " 

" Ay, ay, sir ! A shoal of Sperm Whales ! There she 
blows ! There she breaches ! " 

" Sing out ! sing out every time ! " 

" Ay, ay, sir ! There she blows ! there there thar she 
blows bowes bo-o-o-s ! " 

" How far off ? " 

c< Two miles and a half." 

" Thunder and lightning ! so near ! Call all hands ! " 

J. Ross Browne's Etchings of a 
Whaling Cruise. 1846. 

4 The Whale-ship Globe, on board of which vessel occurred 
the horrid transactions we are about to relate, belonged to 
the island of Nantucket.' 

Narrative of the Globe Mutiny, by 
Lay and Hussey, Survivors. A.D. 1828. 

c Being once pursued by a whale which he had wounded, 
he parried the assault for some time with a lance ; but the 
furious monster at length rushed on the boat ; himself and 
comrades only being preserved by leaping into the water 
when they saw the onset was inevitable. 5 

Missionary Journal of Tyerman and Bennett. 

' Nantucket itself,' said Mr. Webster, ' is a very striking 
and peculiar portion of the National interest. There is a 
population of eight or nine thousand persons, living here 
in the sea, adding largely every year to the National wealth 
by the boldest and most persevering industry.' 

Report of Daniel Webster's Speech in the U.S. 
Senate, on the Application for the Erection 
of a Breakwater at Nantucket. 1828. 

xxii . MOBY-DICK 

' The whale fell directly over him, and probably killed him 
in a moment.' 

The Whale and his Captors, or the Whale- 
man's Adventures and the Whale's Bio- 
graphy, gathered on the Homeward Cruise 
of the Commodore Preble. By Rev. Henry 
T. Cheever. 

' " If you make the least damn bit of noise," replied Samuel, 
" I will send you to hell." ' 

Life of Samuel Comstock (the Mutineer), by 
his Brother, William Comstock. Another 
Version of the Whale-ship Globe Narrative. 

' The voyages of the Dutch and English to the Northern 
Ocean, in order, if possible, to discover a passage through it 
to India, though they failed of their main object, laid open 
the haunts of the whale.' 

McCulloch's Commercial Dictionary. 

4 These things are reciprocal ; the ball rebounds, only to 
bound forward again ; for now in laying open the haunts 
of the whale, the whalemen seem to have indirectly hit upon 
new clews to that same mystic North -West Passage.' 

From ' Something ' unpublished. 

4 It is impossible to meet a whale-ship on the ocean with- 
out being struck by her near appearance. The vessel under 
short sail, with look-outs at the mast-heads, eagerly scanning 
the wide expanse around them, has a totally different air 
from those engaged in a regular voyage.' 

Currents and Whaling. U.S. Ex. Ex. 

1 Pedestrians in the vicinity of London and elsewhere may 
recollect having seen large curved bones set upright in the 
earth, either to form arches over gateways, or entrances to 
alcoves, and they may perhaps have been told that these 
were the ribs of whales.' 

Tales of a Whale Voyager to the Arctic Ocean. 

' It was not till the boats returned from the pursuit of these 
whales, that the whites saw their ship in bloody possession 
of the savages enrolled among the crew.' 

Newspaper Account of the Taking and Retaking 
of the Whale-ship Hobomack. 


' It is generally well known that out of the crews of Whaling 
vessels (American) few ever return in the ships on board of 
which they departed.' Cruise in a Whale Boat. 

1 Suddenly a mighty mass emerged from the water, and 
shot up perpendicularly into the air. It was the whale.' 

Miriam Coffin or the Whale Fisherman. 

' The Whale is harpooned to be sure ; but bethink you, 
how you would manage a powerful unbroken colt, with the 
mere appliance of a rope tied to the root of his tail.' 

A Chapter on WJialing in Ribs and Trucks. 

' On one occasion I saw two of these monsters (whales) 
probably male and female, slowly swimming, one after the 
other, within less than a stone's throw of the shore ' (Tierra 
del Fuego), ' over which the beech tree extended its branches.' 

Darwin's Voyage of a Naturalist. 

' " Stern all ! " exclaimed the mate, as upon turning his 
head, he saw the distended jaws of a large Sperm Whale 
close to the head of the boat, threatening it with instant 
destruction ; " Stern all, for your lives ! " 

Wharton the Whale Killer. 

' So be cheery, my lads, let your hearts never fail, 
While the bold harpooneer is striking the whale ! ' 

Nantucket Song. 

' Oh, the rare old Whale, mid storm and gale, 

In his ocean home will be 
A giant in might, where might is right, 
And King of the boundless sea.' 

Whale Song. 




CALL me Ishmael. Some years ago never mind how 
long precisely having little or no money in my purse, 
and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought 
I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the 
world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen, and 
regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself 
growing grim about the mouth ; whenever it is a damp, 
drizzly November in my soul ; whenever I find myself 
involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bring- 
ing up the rear of every funeral I meet ; and especially 
whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that 
it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from 
deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically 
knocking people's hats off then, I account it high time 
to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for 
pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws 
himself upon his sword ; I quietly take to the ship. 
There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew 
it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, 
cherish very nearly the same feelings toward the ocean 
with me. 

There now is your insular city of the Manhattoes, 
belted round by wharves as Indian isles by coral reefs 
commerce surrounds it with her surf. Right and left, the 
streets take you waterward. Its extreme down -town is the 
battery, where that noble mole is washed by waves, and 

VOL. I. A 


cooled by breezes, which a few hours previous were out of 
sight of land. Look at the crowds of water -gazers there. 

Circumambulate the city of a dreamy Sabbath after- 
noon. Go from Corlears Hook to Coenties Slip, and 
from thence, by Whitehall, northward. What do you 
see ? Posted like silent sentinels all around the town, 
stand thousands upon thousands of mortal men fixed 
in ocean reveries. Some leaning against the spiles ; 
some seated upon the pier-heads ; some looking over 
Vhe bulwarks of ships from China ; some high aloft in 
the rigging, as if striving to get a still better seaward 
peep. But these are all landsmen ; of week days pent 
up in lath and plaster tied to counters, nailed to benches, 
clinched to desks. How then is this ? Are the green 
fields gone ? What do they here ? 

But look ! here come more crowds, pacing straight for 
the water, and seemingly bound for a dive. Strange ! 
Nothing will content them but the extremest limit of the 
land ; loitering under the shady lee of yonder warehouses 
will not suffice. No. They must get just as nigh the 
water as they possibly can without falling in. And there 
they stand miles of them leagues. Inlanders all, they 
come from lanes and alleys, streets and avenues north, 
east, south, and west. Yet here they all unite. Tell me, 
does the magnetic virtue of the needles of the compasses 
of all those ships attract them thither ? 

Once more. Say, you are in the country ; in some 
high land of lakes. Take almost any path you please, 
and ten to one it carries you down in a dale, and leaves 
you there by a pool in the stream. There is magic in it. 
Let the most absent-minded of men be plunged in his 
deepest reveries stand that man on his legs, set his feet 
a-going, and he will infallibly lead you to water, if water 
there be in all that region. Should you ever be athirst 
in the great American desert, try this experiment, if your 


caravan happen to be supplied with a metaphysical 
professor. Yes, as everyone knows, meditation andli 
water are wedded forever. 

But here is an artist. He desires to paint you the 
dreamiest, shadiest, quietest, most enchanting bit of 
romantic landscape in all the valley of the Saco. What 
is the chief element he employs ? There stand his trees, 
each with a hollow trunk, as if a hermit and a crucifix 
were within ; and here sleeps his meadow, and there sleep 
his cattle ; and up from yonder cottage goes a sleepy 
smoke. Deep into distant woodlands winds a mazy way, 
reaching to overlapping spurs of mountains bathed in 
their hillside blue. But though the picture lies thus 
tranced, and though this pine-tree shakes down its sighs 
like leaves upon this shepherd's head, yet all were 
vain, unless the shepherd's eye were fixed upon the 
magic stream before him. Go visit the Prairies in June, 
when for scores on scores of miles you wade knee -deep 
among tiger-lilies what is the one charm wanting ?- 
Water there is not a drop of water there ! Were Niagara 
but a cataract of sand, would you travel your thousand 
miles to see it ? Why did the poor poet of Tennessee, 
upon suddenly receiving two handfuls of silver, deliberate 
whether to buy him a coat, which he sadly needed, or 
invest his money in a pedestrian trip to Rockaway Beach ? 
Why is almost every robust healthy boy with a robust 
healthy soul in him, at some time or other crazy to go to 
sea ? Why upon your first voyage as a passenger, did 
you yourself feel such a mystical vibration, when first ; 
told that you and your ship were now out of sight of ' 
land ? Why did the old Persians hold the sea holy ? 
Why did the Greeks give it a separate deity, and own 
brother of Jove ? Surely all this is not without meaning. 
And still deeper the meaning of that story of Narcissus, 
who because he could not grasp the tormenting, mild 


image he saw in the fountain, plunged into it and was 
drowned. But that same image, we ourselves see in all 
rivers and oceans. It is the image of the ungraspable 
phantom of life ; and this is the key to it all. 

Now, when I say that I am in the habit of going to sea 
whenever I begin to grow hazy about the eyes, and begin 
to be over conscious of my lungs, I do not mean to have 
it inferred that I ever go to sea as a passenger. For to 
go as a passenger you must needs have a purse, and a 
purse is but a rag unless you have something in it. Be- 
sides, passengers get sea-sick grow quarrelsome don't 
sleep of nights do not enjoy themselves much, as a 
general thing ; no, I never go as a passenger ; nor, 
though I am something of a salt, do I ever go to sea as a 
Commodore, or a Captain, or a Cook. I abandon the 
glory and distinction of such offices to those who like 
them. For my part, I abominate all honourable respect- 
able toils, trials, and tribulations of every kind what- 
soever. It is quite as much as I can do to take care 
of myself, without taking care of ships, barques, brigs, 
schooners, and what not. And as for going as cook, 
though I confess there is considerable glory in that, a 
cook being a sort of officer on shipboard yet, somehow, 
I never fancied broiling fowls ; though once broiled, 
judiciously buttered, and judgmatically salted and 
peppered, there is no one who will speak more respect- 
fully, not to say reverentially, of a broiled fowl than I 
will. It is out of the idolatrous do tings of the old 
Egyptians upon broiled ibis and roasted river horse, that 
you see the mummies of those creatures in their huge 
bake-houses the pyramids. 

No, when I go to sea, I go as a simple sailor, right 
before the mast, plumb down into the forecastle, aloft 
there to the royal mast-head. True, they rather order 
me about some, and make me jump from spar to spar, 


like a grasshopper in a May meadow. And at first, this 
sort of thing is unpleasant enough. It touches one's 
sense of honour, particularly if you come of an old estab- 
lished family in the land, the Van Rensselaers, or Ran- 
dolphs, or Hardicanutes. And more than all, if just 
previous to putting your hand into the tar-pot, you have 
been lording it as a country schoolmaster, making the 
tallest boys stand in awe of you. The transition is a 
keen one, I assure you, from a schoolmaster to a sailor, 
and requires a strong decoction of Seneca and the Stoics 
to enable you to grin and bear it. But even this wears 
off hi time. 

What of it, if some old hunks of a sea-captain orders 
me to get a broom and sweep down the decks ? What 
does that indignity amount to, weighed, I mean, in the 
scales of the New Testament ? Do you think the arch- 
angel Gabriel thinks anything the less of me, because I 
promptly and respectfully obey that old hunks in that 
particular instance ? Who ain/t a slave ? Tell me that. 
Well, then, however the~old^sea -captains may order me 
about however they may thump and punch me about, 
I have the satisfaction of knowing that it is all right ; 
that everybody else is one way or other served in much the 
same way either in a physical or metaphysical point of 
view, that is ; and so the universal thump is passed 
round, and all hands should rub each other's shoulder- 
blades, and be content. 

Again, I always go to sea as a sailor, because they make 
a point of paying me for my trouble, whereas they never 
pay passengers a single penny that I ever heard of. On 
the contrary, passengers themselves must pay. And 
there is all the difference in the world between paying 
and being paid. The act of paying is perhaps the most 
uncomfortable infliction that the two orchard thieves 
entailed upon us. But being paid, what will compare 


with it ? The urbane activity with which a man receives 
money is really marvellous, considering that we so 
earnestly believe money to be the root of all earthly ills, 
and that on no account can a monied man enter heaven. 
Ah ! how cheerfully we consign ourselves to perdition ! 

Finally, I always go to sea as a sailor, because of the 
wholesome exercise and pure air of the forecastle deck. 
For as in this world, head-winds are far more prevalent 
than winds from astern (that is, if you never violate 
the Pythagorean maxim), so for the most part the com- 
modore on the quarter-deck gets his atmosphere at 
second hand from the sailors on the forecastle. He thinks 
he breathes it first ; but not so. In much the same 
way do the commonalty lead their leaders in many other 
things, at the same time that the leaders little suspect it. 
But wherefore it was that after having repeatedly smelt 
the sea as a merchant sailor, I should now take it into 
my head to go on a whaling voyage ; this the invisible 
police-officer of the Fates, who has the constant surveil- 
lance of me, and secretly dogs me, and influences me in 
some unaccountable way he can better answer than any 
one else. And, doubtless, my going on this whaling 
voyage formed part of the grand programme of Provi- 
dence that was drawn up a long time ago. It came in 
as a sort of brief interlude and solo between more exten- 
sive performances. I take it that this part of the bill 
must have run something like this : 

' Grand Contested Election for the Presidency of the 
United States. 



Though I cannot tell why it was exactly that those 
stage managers, the Fates, put me down for this shabby 


part of a whaling voyage, when others were set down 
for magnificent parts in high tragedies, and short and easy 
parts in genteel comedies, and jolly parts in farces 
though I cannot tell why this was exactly ; yet, now that 
I recall all the circumstances, I think I can see a little 
into the springs and motives which, being cunningly 
presented to me under various disguises, induced me to 
set about performing the part I did, besides cajoling me 
into the delusion that it was a choice resulting from my 
own unbiased freewill and discriminating judgment. 

Chief among these motives was the overwhelming idea 
of the great whale himself. Such a gortentous and 
mysterious monster roused all my curiosity. Then the 
wild and distant seas where he rolled his island bulk ; 
the undeliverable, nameless perils of the whale ; these, 
with all the attending marvels of a thousand Patagonian 
sights and sounds, helped to sway me to my wish. With 
other men, perhaps, such things would not have been 
inducements ; but as for me, I am tormented with an 
everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail for- 
bidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts. Not ignoring 
what is good, I am quick to perceive a horror, and could 
still be social with it would they let me since it is 
but well to be on friendly terms with all the inmates of 
the place one lodges in. 

By reason of these things, then, the whaling voyage 
was welcome ; the great flood-gates of the wonder-world 
swung open, and in the wild conceits that swayed me to 
my purpose, two and two there floated into my inmost 
soul, endless processions of the whale, and, midmost of 
them all, one grand hooded phantom, like a snow hill in 
the air. 



I stuffed a shirt or two into my old carpet-bag, tucked 
it under my arm, and started for Cape Horn and the 
Pacific. Quitting the good city of old Manhatto, I duly 
arrived in New Bedford. It was on a Saturday night in 
December. Much was I disappointed upon learning 
that the little packet for Nantucket had already sailed, 
and that no way of reaching that place would offer, till 
the following Monday. 

As most young candidates for the pains and penalties 
of whaling stop at this same New Bedford, thence to 
embark on their voyage, it may as well be related that I 5 
for one, had no idea of so doing. For my mind was made 
up to sail in no other than a Nantucket craft, because 
there was a fine, boisterous something about everything 
connected with that famous old island, which amazingly 
pleased me. Besides, though New Bedford has of late 
been gradually monopolising the business of whaling, and 
though in this matter poor old Nantucket is now much 
behind her, yet Nantucket was her great original the 
Tyre of this Carthage ; the place where the first dead 
American whale was stranded. Where else but from 
Nantucket did those aboriginal whalemen, the Red Men, 
first sally out in canoes to give chase to the leviathan ? 
And where but from Nantucket, too, did that first adven- 
turous little sloop put forth, partly laden with imported 
cobble-stones so goes the story to throw at the whales, 


in order to discover when they were nigh enough to risk 
a harpoon from the bowsprit ? 

Now having a night, a day, and still another night 
following before me in New Bedford, ere I could embark 
for my destined port, it became a matter of concernment 
where I was to eat and sleep meanwhile. It was a very 
dubious-looking, nay, a very dark and dismal night, 
bitingly cold and cheerless. I knew no one in the place. 
With anxious grapnelsJE had sounded my pocket, and only 
brought up a few pieces of silver. So, wherever you go, 
Ishmael, said I to myself, as I stood in the middle of a 
dreary street shouldering my bag, and comparing the 
gloom toward the north with the darkness toward the 
south wherever in your wisdom you may conclude to 
lodge for the night, my dear Ishmael, be sure to inquire 
the price, and don't be too particular. 

With halting steps I paced the streets, and passed the 
sign of 'The Crossed Harpoons ' but it looked too expen- 
sive and jolly there. Further on, from the bright red 
windows of the ' Sword-Fish Inn,' there came such fer- 
vent rays, that it seemed to have melted the packed snow 
and ice from before the house, for everywhere else the 
congealed frost lay ten inches thick in a hard, asphaltic 
pavement, rather weary for me, when I struck my foot 
against the flinty projections, because from hard, remorse- 
less service the soles of mv boots were in a most miserable 


plight. Too expensive and jolly, again thought I, pausing 
one moment to watch the broad glare in the street, and 
hear the sounds of the tinkling glasses within. But go i 
on, Ishmael, said I at last ; don't you hear ? get away l 
from before the door ; your patched boots are stopping 
the way. So on I went. I now by instinct followed the 
streets that took me waterward, for there, doubtless, 
were the cheapest, if not the cheeriest inns. 

Such dreary streets ! blocks of blackness, not houses, 


on either hand, and here and there a candle, like a candle 
moving about in a tomb. At this hour of the night, of 
the last day of the week, that quarter of the town proved 
all but deserted. But presently I carne to a smoky 
light proceeding from a low, wide building, the door of 
which stood invitingly open. It had a careless look, as 
if it were meant for the uses of the public ; so, entering, 
the first thing I did was to stumble over an ash-box in 
the porch. Ha ! thought I, ha, as the flying particles 
almost choked me, are these ashes from that destroyed 
city, Gomorrah ? But ' The Cfossed Harpoons ' and 
4 The Sword-Fish ' ? this, then, must needs be the sign 
of ' The Trap. ' However, I picked myself up , and hearing 
a loud voice within, pushed on and opened a second, 
interior door. 

It seemed the great Black Parliament sitting in Tophet. 
A hundred black faces turned round in their rows to peer ; 
and beyond, a black Angel of Doom was beating a book 
in a pulpit. It was a negro church ; and the preacher's 
text was about the blackness of darkness, and the weep- 
ing and wailing and teeth -gnashing there. Ha, Ishmael, 
muttered I, backing out, Wretched entertainment at the 
sign of ' The Trap ' ! 

Moving on, I at last came to a dim sort of light not far 
from the docks, and heard a forlorn creaking in the air ; 
and looking up, saw a swinging sign over the door with 
a white painting upon it, faintly representing a tall straight 
jet of misty spray, and these words underneath ' The 
Spouter-Inn : Peter Coffin.' 

Coffin ? Spouter ? Rather ominous in that particu- 
lar connection, thought I. But it is a common name in 
Nantucket, they say, and I suppose this Peter here is an 
emigrant from there. As the light looked so dim, and 
the place, for the time, looked quiet enough, and the 
dilapidated little wooden house itself looked as if it might 


have been carted here from the ruins of some burnt dis- 
trict, and as the swinging sign had a poverty-stricken sort 
of creak to it, I thought that here was the very spot for 
cheap lodgings, and the best of pea-coffee. 

It was a queer sort of place a gable-ended old house, 
one side palsied as it were, and leaning over sadly. It 
stood on a sharp bleak corner, where that tempestuous 
wind Euroclydon kept up a worse howling than ever it 
did about poor Paul's tossed craft. Euroclydon, never- 
theless, is a mighty pleasant zephyr to anyone indoors, 
with his feet on the hob quietly toasting for bed. 4 In 
judging of that tempestuous wind called Euroclydon,' 
says an old writer of whose works I possess the only 
copy extant ' it maketh a marvellous difference, 
whether thou lookest out at it from a glass window where 
the frost is all on the outside, or whether thou observest 
it from that Cashless window, where the frost is on both 
sides, and of which the wight Death is the only glazier.' 
True enough, thought I, as this passage occurred to my 
mind old black-letter, thou reasonest well. Yes, these 
eyes are windows, and this body of mine is the house. 
What a pity they didn't stop up the chinks and the 
crannies though, and thrust in a little lint here and there. 
But it 's too late to make any improvements now. The 
universe is finished ; the cope-stone is on, and the chips 
were carted off a million years ago. Poor Lazarus there, 
chattering his teeth against the curbstone for his pillow, 
and shaking off his tatters with his shiverings, he might 
plug up both ears with rags, and put a corn-cob into his 
mouth, and yet that would not keep out the tempestuous 
Euroclydon. Euroclydon ! says old Dives, in his red 
silken wrapper (he had a redder one afterward) pooh, 
pooh ! What a fine frosty night ; how Orion glitters ; 
what northern lights ! Let them talk of their oriental 
summer climes of everlasting conservatories ; give me 


the privilege of making my own summer with my own 

But what thinks Lazarus ? Can he warm his blue 
hands by holding them up to the grand northern lights ? 
Would not Lazarus rather be in Sumatra than here ? 
Would he not far rather lay him down lengthwise along 
the line of the equator ; yea, ye gods ! go down to the 
fiery pit itself, in order to keep out this frost ? 

Now, that Lazarus should lie stranded there on the 
curbstone before the door of Dives, this is more wonderful 
than that an iceberg should be moored to one of the 
Moluccas. Yet Dives himself, he too lives like a Czar 
in an ice-palace made of frozen sighs, and being a president 
of a temperance society, he only drinks the tepid tears of 

But no more of this blubbering now, we are going a- 
whaling, and there is plenty of that yet to come. Let 
us scrape the ice from our frosted feet, and see what sort 
of a place this ' Spouter ' may be. 



ENTERING that gable -ended Spouter-Inn, you found 
yourself in a wide, low, straggling entry with old-fashioned 
wainscots, reminding one of the bulwarks of some con- 
demned old craft. On one side hung a very large oil- 
painting so thoroughly besmoked, and every way defaced, 
that in the unequal cross-lights by which you viewed it, 
it was only by diligent study and a series of systematic 
visits to it, and careful inquiry of the neighbours, that 
you could any way arrive at an understanding of its 
purpose. Such unaccountable masses of shades and 
shadows, that at first you almost thought some ambitious 
young artist, in the time of the New England hags, had 
endeavoured to delineate chaos bewitched. But by dint 
of much and earnest contemplation, and oft-repeated 
ponderings, and especially by throwing open the little 
window toward the back of the entry, you at last come 
to the conclusion that such an idea, however wild, might 
not be altogether unwarranted. 

But what most puzzled and confounded you was a 
long, limber, portentous, black mass of something hover- 
ing in the centre of the picture over three blue, dim, 
perpendicular lines floating in a nameless yeast. A boggy, 
soggy, squitchy picture truly, enough to drive a nervous 
man distracted. Yet there was a sort of indefinite, half- 
attained, unimaginable sublimity about it that fairly 
froze you to it, till you in voluntarily, took an oath with 
yourself to find out what that marvellous painting meant. 



Ever and anon a bright, but, alas, deceptive idea would 
dart you through. It 's the Black Sea in a midnight gale. 
It 's the unnatural combat of the four primal elements. 
It 's a blasted heath. It 's a Hyperborean winter scene. 
It 's the breaking-up of the ice-bound stream of Time. 
But at last all these fancies yielded to that one portentous 
something in the picture's midst. That once found out, 
and all the rest were plain. But stop ; does it not bear 
a faint resemblance to a gigantic fish ? even the great 
leviathan himself ? 

In fact, the artist's design seemed this : a final theory 
of my own, partly based upon the aggregated opinions 
of many aged persons with whom I conversed upon the 
subject. The picture represents a Cape-Horner in a great 
hurricane ; the half-foundered ship weltering there with 
its three dismantled masts alone visible ; and an exasper- 
ated whale, purposing to spring clean over the craft, is 
in the enormous act of impaling himself upon the three 

The opposite wall of this entry was hung all over with 
a heathenish array of monstrous clubs and spears. Some 
were thickly set with glittering teeth resembling ivory 
saws ; others were tufted with knots of human hair ; and 
one was sickle-shaped, with a vast handle sweeping round 
like the segment made in the new-mown grass by a long- 
armed mower. You shuddered as you gazed, and 
wondered what monstrous cannibal and savage could 
ever have gone a death-harvesting with such a hacking, 
horrifying implement. Mixed with these were rusty 
old whaling-lances and harpoons all broken and deformed. 
Some were storied weapons. With this once long lance, 
now wildly elbowed, fifty years ago did Nathan Swain 
kill fifteen whales between a sunrise and a sunset. And 
that harpoon so like a corkscrew now was flung in 
Javan seas, and run away with by a whale, years after- 


ward slain off the Cape of Blanco. The original iron 
entered nigh the tail, and, like a restless needle sojourning 
in the body of a man, travelled full forty feet, and at last 
was found imbedded in the hump. 

Crossing this dusky entry, and on through yon low- 
arched way cut through what in old times must have 
been a great central chimney with fire-places all round 
you enter the public room. A still duskier place is this, 
with such low ponderous beams above, and such old 
wrinkled planks beneath, that you would almost fancy 
you trod some old craft's cockpits, especially of such a 
howling night, when this corner-anchored old ark rocked 
so furiously. On one side stood a long, low, shelf-like 
table covered with cracked glass cases, filled with dusty 
rarities gathered from this wide world's remotest nooks. 
Projecting from the further angle of the room stands a 
dark-looking den the bar a rude attempt at a right 
whale's head. Be that how it may, there stands the vast 
arched bone of the whale's jaw, so wide, a coach might 
almost drive beneath it. Within are shabby shelves, 
ranged round with old decanters, bottles, flasks ; and in 
those jaws of swift destruction, like another cursed Jonah 
(by which name indeed they called him), bustles a little 
withered old man, who, for their money, dearly sells the 
sailors deliriums and death. 

Abominable are the tumblers into which he pours his 
poison. Though true cylinders without within, the 
villainous green goggling glasses deceitfully tapered down- 
ward to a cheating bottom. Parallel meridians rudely 
pecked into the glass, surround these footpads' goblets. 
Fill to this mark, and your charge is but a penny ; to this 
a penny more ; and so on to the full glass the Cape 
Horn measure, which you may gulp down for a shilling. 
Upon entering the place I found a number of young 
seamen gathered about a table, examining by a dim light 


divers speiimens of skrimshander. I sought the land- 
lord, and telling him I desired to be accommodated with 
a room, received for answer that his house was full not 
a bed unoccupied. ' But avast, 5 he added, tapping his 
forehead, ' you hain't no objections to sharin* a har- 
pooneer 's blanket, have ye ? I s'pose you are goin' a- 
whalin 5 , so you 'd better get used to that sort of thing. 5 

I told him that I never liked to sleep two in a bed ; that 
if I should ever do so, it would depend upon who the 
harpooneer might be, and that if he (the landlord) really 
had no other place for me, and the harpooneer was not 
decidedly objectionable, why, rather than wander further 
about a strange town on so bitter a night, I would put 
up with the half of any decent man 5 s blanket. 

' I thought so. All right ; take a seat. Supper ? 
you want supper ? Supper 5 11 be ready directly. 5 

I sat down on an old wooden settle, carved all over like 
a bench on the Battery. At one end a ruminating tar 
was still further adorning it with his jack-knife, stooping 
over and diligently working away at the space between 
his legs. He was trying his hand at a ship under full sail, 
but he didn't make much headway, I thought. 

At last some four or five of us were summoned to our 
meal in an adjoining room. It was cold as Iceland 
no fire at all the landlord said he couldn't afford it. 
Nothing but two dismal tallow candles, each in a winding 
sheet. We were fain to button up our monkey-jackets, 
and hold to our lips cups of scalding tea with our half- 
frozen fingers. But the fare was of the most substantial 
kind not only meat and potatoes, but dumplings ; good 
heavens ! dumplings for supper ! One young fellow in 
a green box-coat addressed himself to these dumplings 
hi a most direful manner. 

' My boy,' said the landlord, ' you '11 have the night- 
mare to a dead sartainty.' 


'Landlord,' I whispered, w that ain't the harpooneer, 
is it ? ' 

1 Oh, no/ said he, looking a sort of diabolically funny, 
4 the harpooneer is a dark - complexioned chap. He 
never eats dumplings, he don't he eats nothing but 
steaks, and likes 'em rare.' 

' The devil he does, ' says I. ' Where is that harpooneer ? 
Is he here ? ' 

' He '11 be here afore long,' was the answer. 

I could not help it, but I began to feel suspicious of 
this ' dark-complexioned ' harpooneer. At any rate, I 
made up my mind that if it so turned out that we should 
sleep together, he must undress and get into bed before 
I did. 

Supper over, the company went back to the bar-room, 
when, knowing not what else to do with myself, I resolved 
to spend the rest of the evening as a looker-on. 

Presently a rioting noise was heard without. Starting 
up, the landlord cried, ' That 's the Grampus's crew. I 
seed her reported in the offing this morning ; a three 
years' voyage, and a full ship. Hurrah, boys ; now we '11 
have the latest news from the Feegees.' 

A tramping of sea-boots was heard in the entry ; the 
door was flung open, and in rolled a wild set of mariners 
enough. Enveloped in their shaggy watch-coats, and 
with their heads muffled in woollen comforters, all be- 
darned and ragged, and their beards stiff with icicles, 
they seemed an eruption of bears from Labrador. They 
had just landed from their boat, and this was the first 
house they entered. No wonder, then, that they made 
a straight wake for the whale's mouth the bar when 
the wrinkled little old Jonah, there officiating, soon 
poured them out brimmers all round. One complained 
of a bad cold in his head, upon which Jonah mixed 
him a pitch-like potion of gin and molasses, which he 

VOL. I. B 


swore was a sovereign cure for all colds and catarrhs 
whatsoever, never mind of how long standing, or whether 
caught off the coast of Labrador, or on the weather-side 
of an ice -island. 

The liquor soon mounted into their heads, as it 
generally does even with the arrantest topers newly 
landed from sea, and they began capering about most 

I observed, however, that one of them held somewhat 
aloof, and though he seemed desirous not to spoil the 
hilarity of his shipmates by his own sober face, yet upon 
the whole he refrained from making as much noise as the 
rest. This man interested me at once ; and since the sea- 
gods had ordained that he should soon become my ship- 
mate (though but a sleeping-partner one, so far as this 
narrative is concerned), I will here venture upon a little 
description of him. He stood full six feet in height, with 
noble shoulders, and a chest like a coffer-dam. I have 
seldom seen such brawn in a man. His face was deeply 
brown and burnt, making his white teeth dazzling by the 
contrast ; while in the deep shadows of his eyes floated 
some reminiscences that did not seem to give him much 
joy. His voice at once announced that he was a 
Southerner, and from his fine stature, I thought he must 
be one of those tall mountaineers from the Alleghanian 
Ridge in Virginia. When the revelry of his companions 
had mounted to its height, this man slipped away unob- 
served, and I saw no more of him till he became my 
comrade on the sea. In a few minutes, however, he was 
missed by his shipmates, and being, it seems, for some 
reason a huge favourite with them, they raised a cry of 
' Bulkington ! Bulkington ! where 5 s Bulkington ? ' and 
darted out of the house in pursuit of him. 

It was now about nine o'clock, and the room seeming 
almost supernaturally quiet after these orgies, I began 


to congratulate myself upon a little plan that had occurred 
to me just previous to the entrance of the seamen. 

No man prefers to sleep two in a bed. In fact, you 
would a good deal rather not sleep with your own brother. 
I don't know how it is, but people like to be private when 
they are sleeping. And when it comes to sleeping with 
an unknown stranger, in a strange inn, in a strange town, 
and that stranger a harpooneer, then your objections 
indefinitely multiply. Nor was there any earthly reason 
why I as a sailor should sleep two in a bed, more than 
anybody else ; for sailors no more sleep two in a bed at 
sea, than bachelor kings do ashore. To be sure, they 
all sleep together in one apartment, but you have your 
own hammock, and cover yourself with your own blanket, 
and sleep in your own skin. 

The more I pondered over this harpooneer, the more I 
abominated the thought of sleeping with him. It was 
fair to presume that being a harpooneer, his linen or 
woollen, as the case might be, would not be of the tidiest, 
certainly none of the finest. I began to twitch all over. 
Besides, it was getting late, and my decent harpooneer 
ought to be home and going bedward. Suppose now, 
he should tumble in upon me at midnight how could I 
tell from what vile hole he had been coming ? 

' Landlord ! I Ve changed my mind about that 
harpooneer. I shan't sleep with him. I '11 try the bench 

' Just as you please ; I 'm sorry I can't spare ye a 
tablecloth for a mattress, and it 's a plaguy rough board 
here ' feeling of the knots and notches. ' But wait 
a bit, Skrimshander ; I Ve got a carpenter's plane there 
in the bar wait, I say, and I '11 make ye snug enough.' 
So saying he procured the plane ; and with his old silk 
handkerchief first dusting the bench, vigorously set to 
planing away at my bed, the while grinning like an ape. 


The shavings flew right and left ; till at last the plane- 
iron came bump against an indestructible knot. The 
landlord was near spraining his wrist, and I told him for 
heaven's sake to quit the bed was soft enough to suit 
me, and I did not know how all the planing in the world 
could make eider down of a pine plank. So gathering 
up the shavings with another grin, and throwing them 
into the great stove in the middle of the room, he went 
about his business, and left me in a brown study. 

I now took the measure of the bench, and found that 
it was a foot too short ; but that could be mended with 
a chair. But it was a foot too narrow, and the other 
bench in the room was about four inches higher than the 
planed one so there was no yoking them. I then placed 
the first bench lengthwise along the only clear space 
against the wall, leaving a little interval between, for my 
back to settle down in. But I soon found that there 
came such a draught of cold air over me from under the 
sill of the window, that this plan would never do at all, 
especially as another current from the rickety door met 
the one from the window, and both together formed a 
series of small whirlwinds in the immediate vicinity of the 
spot where I had thought to spend the night. 

The devil fetch that harpooneer, thought I, but stop, 
couldn't I steal a march on him bolt his door inside, and 
jump into his bed, not to be wakened by the most violent 
knockings ? It seemed no bad idea ; but upon second 
thoughts I dismissed it. For who could tell but what 
the next morning, so soon as I popped out of the room, 
the harpooneer might be standing in the entry, all ready 
to knock me down ! 

Still, looking round me again, and seeing no possible 
chance of spending a sufferable night unless in some other 
person's bed, I began to think that after all I might be 
cherishing unwarrantable prejudices against this unknown 


harpooneer. Thinks I, I '11 wait awhile ; he must be 
dropping in before long. 1 11 have a good look at him 
then, and perhaps we may become jolly good bedfellows 
after all there 's no telling. 

But though the other boarders kept coming in by 
ones, twos, and threes, and going to bed, yet no sign of 
my harpooneer. 

4 Landlord ! ' said I, ' what sort of a chap is he does 
he always keep such late hours ? ' It was now hard 
upon twelve o'clock. 

The landlord chuckled again with his lean chuckle, 
and seemed to be mightily tickled at something beyond 
my comprehension. ' No,' he answered, ' generally he 5 s 
an early bird airley to bed and airley to rise yes, he 's 
the bird what catches the worm. But to-night he 
went out a-peddling, you see, and I don't see what 
on airth keeps him so late, unless, maybe, he can't sell 
his head.' 

' Can't sell his head ? What sort of a bamboozingly 
story is this you are telling me ? ' getting into a tower- 
ing rage. ' Do you pretend to say, landlord, that this 
harpooneer is actually engaged this blessed Saturday 
night, or rather Sunday morning, in peddling his head 
around this town ? ' 

' That 's precisely it,' said the landlord, ' and I told 
him he couldn't sell it here, the market 's overstocked.' 

' With what ? ' shouted I. 

' With heads, to be sure ; ain't there too many heads 
in the world ? ' 

' I tell you what it is, landlord,' said I, quite calmly, 
' you 'd better stop spinning that yarn to me I 'm not 

6 Maybe not, ' taking out a stick and whittling a tooth- 
pick, ' but I rayther guess you '11 be done brown if that 
'ere harpooneer hears you a-slanderin' his head.' 


' I '11 break it for him/ said I, now flying into a passion 
again at this unaccountable farrago of the landlord's. 

' It 's broke a 'ready,' said he. 

' Broke/ said I ' broke, do you mean ? ' 

' Sartain, and that 's the very reason he can't sell it, 
I guess.' 

' Landlord/ said I, going up to him as cool as Mt. 
Hecla in a snow-storm, 'landlord, stop whittling. You 
and I must understand one another, and that too without 
delay. I come to your house and want a bed ; you tell 
me you can only give me half a one ; that the other half 
belongs to a certain harpooneer. And about this har- 
pooneer, whom I have not yet seen, you persist in telling 
me the most mystifying and exasperating stories, tending 
to beget in me an uncomfortable feeling toward the man 
whom you design for my bedfellow* a sort of connection, 
landlord, which is an intimate and confidential one in the 
highest degree. I now demand of you to speak out and 
tell me who and what this harpooneer is, and whether I 
shall be in all respects safe to spend the night with him. 
And in the first place, you will be so good as to unsay that 
story about selling his head, which if true I take to be 
good evidence that this harpooneer is stark mad, and I 've 
no idea of sleeping with a madman ; and you, sir, you 
I mean, landlord, you, sir, by trying to induce me to do 
so knowingly, would thereby render yourself liable to a 
criminal prosecution.' 

' Wall/ said the landlord, fetching a long breath, 'that 's 
a purty long sarmon for a chap that rips a little now and 
then. But be easy, be easy, this here harpooneer I have 
been tellin' you of has just arrived from the South Seas, 
where he bought up a lot of 'balmed New Zealand heads 
(great curios, you know), and he 's sold all on 'em but 
one, and that one he 's tryin' to sell to-night, cause to- 
morrow 's Sunday, and it would not do to be sellin' 


human heads about the streets when folks is goin' to 
churches. He wanted to, last Sunday, but I stopped him 
just as he was goin' out of the door with four heads strung 
on a string, for all the airth like a string of inions.' 

This account cleared up the otherwise unaccountable 
mystery, and showed that the landlord, after all, had had 
no idea of fooling me but at the same time what could 
I think of a harpooneer who stayed out of a Saturday 
night clean into the holy Sabbath, engaged in such a 
cannibal business as selling the heads of dead idolaters ? 

' Depend upon it, landlord, that harpooneer is a danger- 
ous man.' 

' He pays reg'lar, 5 was the rejoinder. ' But come, 
it 's getting dreadful late, you had better be turning 
flukes it 's a nice bed : Sail and me slept in that 'ere 
bed the night we were spliced. There 's plenty room for 
two to kick about in that bed ; it 's an almighty big bed 
that. Why, afore we give it up, Sal used to put our Sam 
and little Johnny in the foot of it. But I got a-dreaming 
and sprawling about one night, and somehow, Sam got 
pitched on the floor, and came near breaking his arm. 
Arter that, Sal said it wouldn't do. Come along here, 
I '11 give ye a glim in a jiffy ' ; and so saying he lighted a 
candle and held it toward me, offering to lead the way. 
But I stood irresolute ; when looking at a clock in the 
corner, he exclaimed, ' I vum it 's Sunday you won't 
see that harpooneer to-night ; he 's come to anchor some- 
where come along then ; do come ; won't ye come ? ' 

I considered the matter a moment, and then upstairs 
we went, and I was ushered into a small room, cold as a 
clam, and furnished, sure enough, with a prodigious bed, 
almost big enough indeed for any four harpooneers to 
sleep abreast. 

' There,' said the landlord, placing the candle on a 
crazy old sea-chest that did double duty as a wash-stand 


and centre table ; ' there, make yourself comfortable 
now, and good night to ye.' I turned round from eyeing 
the bed, but he had disappeared. 

Folding back the counterpane, I stooped over the bed. 
Though none of the most elegant, it yet stood the scrutiny 
tolerably well. I then glanced round the room ; and 
besides the bedstead and centre table, could see no other 
furniture belonging to the place, but a rude shelf, the four 
walls, and a papered fire-board representing a man striking 
a whale. Of things not properly belonging to the room, 
there was a hammock lashed up, and thrown upon the 
floor in one corner ; also a large seaman's bag, containing 
the harpooneer's wardrobe, no doubt in lieu of a land trunk. 
Likewise, there was a parcel of outlandish bone fish-hooks 
on the shelf over the fire-place, and a tall harpoon stand- 
ing at the head of the bed. 

But what is this on the chest ? I took it up, and held 
it close to the light, and felt it, and smelt it, and tried 
every way possible to arrive at some satisfactory con- 
clusion concerning it. I can compare it to nothing but 
a large door-mat, ornamented at the edges with little 
tinkling tags something like the stained porcupine quills 
round an Indian moccasin. There was a hole or slit in 
the middle of this mat, as you see the same in South 
American ponchos. But could it be possible that any 
sober harpooneer would get into a door-mat, and parade 
the streets of any Christian town in that sort of guise ? 
I put it on, to try it, and it weighed me down like a hamper, 
being uncommonly shaggy and thick, and I thought a 
little damp, as though this mysterious harpooneer had 
been wearing it of a rainy day. I went up in it to a bit 
of glass stuck against the wall, and I never saw such a 
sight in my life. I tore myself out of it in such a hurry 
that I gave myself a kink in the neck. 

I sat down on the side of the bed, and commenced 


thinking about this head-peddling harpooneer, and his 
door-mat. After thinking some time on the bedside, I 
got up and took off my monkey-jacket, and then stood 
in the middle of the room thinking. I then took off my 
coat, and thought a little more in my shirt -sleeves. But 
beginning to feel very cold now, half undressed as I was, 
and remembering what the landlord said about the har- 
pooneer 's not coming home at all that night, it being so 
very late, I made no more ado, but jumped out of my 
pantaloons and boots, and then blowing out the light 
tumbled into bed, and commended myself to the care of 

Whether that mattress was stuffed with corn-cobs or 
broken crockery, there is no telling, but I rolled about a 
good deal, and could not sleep for a long time. At last 
I slid off into a light doze, and had pretty nearly made a 
good offing toward the land of Nod, when I heard a 
heavy footfall in the passage, and saw a glimmer of light 
come into the room from under the door. 

Lord save me, thinks I, that must be the harpooneer, 
the infemal head-peddler. But I lay perfectly still, and 
resolved not to say a word till spoken to. Holding a 
light in one hand, and that identical New Zealand head 
in the other, the stranger entered the room, and without 
looking toward the bed, placed his candle a good way 
off from me on the floor in one corner, and then began 
working away at the knotted cords of the large bag I 
before spoke of as being in the room. I was all eagerness 
to see his face, but he kept it averted for some time while 
employed in unlacing the bag 's mouth . This accomplished, 
however, he turned round when, good heavens ! what a 
sight ! Such a face ! It was of a dark, purplish, yellow 
colour, here and there stuck over with large, blackish- 
looking squares. Yes, it 's just as I thought, he 's a 
terrible bedfellow ; he 's been in a fight, got dreadfully 


cut, and here he is, just from the surgeon. But at that 
moment he chanced to turn his face so toward the light, 
that I plainly saw they could not be sticking-plasters at 
all, those black squares on his cheeks. They were stains 
of some sort or other. At first I knew not what to make 
of this ; but soon an inkling of the truth occurred to me. 
I remembered a story of a white man a whaleman too 
who, falling among the cannibals, had been tattooed by 
them. I concluded that this harpooneer, in the course of 
his distant voyages, must have met with a similar adven- 
ture. And what is it, thought I, after all ! It 's only 
his outside ; a man can be honest in any sort of skin. 
But then, what to make of his unearthly complexion, 
that part of it, I mean, lying round about, and completely 
independent of the squares of tattooing. To be sure, it 
might be nothing but a good coat of tropical tanning ; 
but I never heard of a hot sun's tanning a white man into 
a purplish-yellow one. However, I had never been in 
the South Seas ; and perhaps the sun there produced 
these extraordinary effects upon the skin. Now, while 
all these ideas were passing through me like lightning, 
this harpooneer never noticed me at all. But, after some 
difficulty having opened his bag, he commenced fumbling 
in it, and presently pulled out a sort of tomahawk, and 
a sealskin wallet with the hair on. Placing these on the 
old chest in the middle of the room, he then took the New 
Zealand head a ghastly thing enough and crammed it 
down into the bag. He now took off his hat a new 
beaver hat when I came nigh singing out with fresh 
surprise. There was no hair on his head none to speak 
of, at least nothing but a small scalp -knot twisted up on 
his forehead. His bald purplish head now looked for 
all the world like a mildewed skull. Had not the^stranger 
stood between me and the door, I would have bolted out 
of it quicker than ever I bolted a dinner. 


Even as it was, I thought something of slipping out 
of the window, but it was the second floor back. I am 
no coward, but what to make of this head-peddling purple 
rascal altogether passed my comprehension. Ignorance, 
js^the parent^QJJear, and being completely nonplussed 
and confounded about the stranger, I confess I was now 
as much afraid of him as if it was the devil himself who 
had thus broken into my room at the dead of night. In 
fact, I was so afraid of him that I was not game enough 
just then to address him, and demand a satisfactory 
answer concerning what seemed inexplicable in him. 

Meanwhile, he continued the business of undressing, 
and at last showed his chest and arms. As I live, these 
covered parts of him were checkered with the same 
squares as his face ; his back, too, was all over the same 
dark squares ; he seemed to have been in a Thirty Years' 
War, and just escaped from it with a sticking-plaster shirt. 
Still more, his very legs were marked, as if a parcel of 
dark green frogs were running up the trunks of young 
palms. It was now quite plain that he must be some 
abominable savage or other shipped aboard of a whale- 
man in the South Seas, and so landed in this Christian 
country. I quaked to think of it. A peddler of heads too 
perhaps the heads of his own brothers. He might take 
a fancy to mine heavens ! look at that tomahawk ! 

But there was no time for shuddering, for now the 
savage went about something that completely fascinated 
my attention, and convinced me that he must indeed be 
a heathen. Going to his heavy grego, or wrapall, or 
dreadnaught, which he had previously hung on a chair, 
he fumbled in the pockets, and produced at length a 
curious little deformed image with a hunch on its back, 
and exactly the colour of a three-days-old Congo baby. 
Remembering the embalmed head, at first I almost 
thought that this black manikin was a real baby pre- 


served in some similar manner. But seeing that it was 
not at all limber, and that it glistened a good deal like 
polished ebony, I concluded that it must be nothing but 
a wooden idol, which indeed it proved to be. For now 
the savage goes up to the empty fire-place, and removing 
the papered fire -board, sets up this little hunchbacked 
image, like a ten-pin, between the andirons. The chimney 
jambs and all the bricks inside were very sooty, so that 
I thought this fire-place made a very appropriate little 
shrine or chapel for his Congo idol. 

I now screwed my eyes hard toward the half-hidden 
image, feeling but ill at ease meantime to see what was 
next to follow. First he takes about a double handful 
of shavings out of his grego pocket, and places them 
carefully before the idol ; then laying a bit of ship -biscuit 
on top and applying the flame from the lamp, he kindled 
<the shavings into a sacrificial blaze. Presently, after 
many hasty snatches into the fire, and still hastier with- 
drawals of his fingers (whereby he seemed to be scorching 
them badly), he at last succeeded in drawing out the 
biscuit ; then blowing off the heat and ashes a little, 
he made a polite offer of it to the little negro. But the 
little devil did not seem to fancy such dry sort of fare at 
all ; he never moved his lips. All these strange antics 
were accompanied by still stranger guttural noises from 
the devotee, who seemed to be praying in a sing-song 
or else singing some pagan psalmody or other, during 
which his face twitched about in the most unnatural 
manner. At last, extinguishing the fire, he took the idol 
up very unceremoniously, and bagged it again in his 
grego pocket as carelessly as if he were a sportsman 
bagging a dead woodcock. 

All these queer proceedings increased my uncomf ortable- 
ness, and seeing him now exhibiting strong symptoms of 
concluding his business operations, and jumping into bed 


with me, I thought it was high time, now or never, before 
the light was put out, to break the spell in which I had 
so long been bound. 

But the interval I spent in deliberating what to say 
was a fatal one. Taking up his tomahawk from the table, 
he examined the head of it for an instant, and then hold- 
ing it to the light, with his mouth at the handle, he puffed 
out great clouds of tobacco smoke. The next moment 
the light was extinguished, and this wild cannibal, toma- 
hawk between his teeth, sprang into bed with me. I 
sang out, I could not help it now ; and giving a sudden 
grunt of astonishment he began feeling me. 

Stammering out something, I knew not what, I rolled 
away from him against the wall, and then conjured him, 
whoever or whatever he might be, to keep quiet, and let 
me get up and light the lamp again. But his guttural 
responses satisfied me at once that he but ill compre- 
hended my meaning. 

' Who-e debel you ? ' he at last said ' you no speak-e, 
dam-me, I kill-e.' And so saying the lighted tomahawk 
began flourishing about me in the dark. 

4 Landlord, for God's sake, Peter Coffin ! ' shouted I. 
' Landlord ! Watch ! Coffin ! Angels ! save me ! ' 

1 Speak-e ! tell-ee me who-ee be, or dam-me, I kill-e ! ' 
again growled the cannibal, while his horrid flourishings 
of the tomahawk scattered the hot tobacco ashes about 
me till I thought my linen would get on fire. But thank 
heaven, at that moment the landlord came into the room 
light in hand, and leaping from the bed I ran up to him. 

4 Don't be afraid now,' said he, grinning again. ' Quee- 
queg here wouldn't harm a hair of your head.' 

' Stop your grinning,' shouted I, ' and why didn't you 
tell me that that infernal harpooneer was a cannibal ? ' 

' I thought ye know'd it ; didn't I tell ye, he was 
a-peddlin' heads around town ? but turn flukes again 


and go to sleep. Queequeg, look here you sabbee me, 
I sabbee you this man sleepe you you sabbee ? ' 

' Me sabbee plenty,' grunted Queequeg, puffing away 
at his pipe and sitting up in bed. 

' You gettee in/ he added, motioning to me with his 
tomahawk, and throwing the clothes to one side. He 
really did this in not only a civil but a really kind and 
charitable way. I stood looking at him a moment. For 
all his tattooings he was on the whole a clean, comely- 
looking cannibal. What 's all this fuss I have been 
making about, thought I to myself the man ? s a human 
being just as I am : he has just as much reason to fear 
me, as I have to be afraid of him. Better sleep with a 
sober cannibal than a drunken Christian. 

'Landlord,' said I, 'tell him to stash his tomahawk 
there, or pipe, or whatever you call it ; tell him to stop 
smoking, in short, and I will turn in with him. But I 
don't fancy having a man smoking in bed with me. It 's 
dangerous. Besides, I ain't insured.' 

This being told to Queequeg, he at once complied, and 
again politely motioned me to get into bed rolling over 
to one side as much as to say, I won't touch a leg of ye. 

' Good night, landlord,' said I, ' you may go.' 

I turned in, and never slept better in my life. 



UPON waking next morning about daylight, I found 
Queequeg's arm thrown over me in the most loving and 
affectionate manner. You had almost thought I had 
been his wife. The counterpane was of patchwork, full 
of odd little parti-coloured squares and triangles ; and 
this arm of his tattooed all over with an interminable 
Cretan labyrinth of a figure, no two parts of which were 
of one precise shade owing, I suppose, to his keeping 
his arm at sea unmethodically in sun and shade, his 
shirt-sleeves irregularly rolled up at various times 
this same arm of his, I say, looked for all the world like 
a strip of that same patchwork quilt. Indeed, partly 
lying on it as the arm did when I first awoke, I could 
hardly tell it from the quilt, they so blended their hues 
together ; and it was only by the sense of weight and 
pressure that I could tell that Queequeg was hugging me. 
My sensations were strange. Let me try to explain 
them. When I was a child, I well remember a somewhat 
similar circumstance that befell me ; whether it was a 
reality or a dream, I never could entirely settle. The 
circumstance was this. I had been cutting up some 
caper or other I think it was trying to crawl up the 
chimney, as I had seen a little sweep do a few days 
previous ; and my stepmother, who, somehow or other, 
was all the time whipping me, or sending me to bed 
supperless, my mother dragged me by the legs out 
of the chimney and packed me off to bed, though it was 
only two o'clock in the afternoon of the 21st June, the 



longest day in the year in our hemisphere. 1 felt dread- 
fully. But there was no help for it, so upstairs I went 
to my little room in the third floor, undressed myself as 
slowly as possible so as to kill time, and with a bitter 
sigh got between the sheets. 

I lay there dismally calculating that sixteen entire 
hours must elapse before I could hope for a resurrection. 
Sixteen hours in bed ! the small of my back ached to 
think of it. And it was so light too ; the sun shining 
in at the window, and a great rattling of coaches in the 
streets, and the sound of gay voices all over the house. 
I felt worse and worse at last I got up, dressed, and 
softly going down in my stockinged feet, sought out my 
stepmother, and suddenly threw myself at her feet, be- 
seeching her as a particular favour to give me a good 
slippering for my misbehaviour ; anything indeed but con- 
demning me to lie abed such an unendurable length of 
time. But she was the best and most conscientious of 
stepmothers, and back I had to go to my room. For 
several hours I lay there broad awake, feeling a great 
deal worse than I have ever done since, even from the 
greatest subsequent misfortunes. At last I must have 
fallen into a troubled nightmare of a doze ; and slowly 
waking from it half steeped in dreams I opened my 
eyes, and the before sunlit room was now wrapped in 
outer darkness. Instantly I felt a shock running through 
all my frame ; nothing was to be seen, and nothing was 
to be heard ; but a supernatural hand seemed placed 
in mine. My arm hung over the counterpane, and the 
nameless, unimaginable, silent form or phantom, to which 
the hand belonged, seemed closely seated by my bedside. 
For what seemed ages piled on ages, I lay there, frozen 
with the most awful fears, not daring to drag away my 
hand ; yet ever thinking that if I could but stir it one 
single inch, the horrid spell would be broken. I knew 


not how this consciousness at last glided away from me ; 
but waking in the morning, I shudderingly remembered 
it all, and for days and weeks and months afterward I 
lost myself in confounding attempts to explain the mystery. 
Nay, to this very hour, I often puzzle myself with it. 

Now, take away the awful fear, and my sensations at 
feeling the supernatural hand in mine were very similar, 
in their strangeness, to those which I experienced on 
waking up and seeing Queequeg 's pagan arm thrown 
round me. But at length all the past night's events 
soberly recurred, one by one, in fixed reality, and then I 
lay only alive to the comical predicament. For though 
I tried to move his arm unlock his bridegroom clasp 
yet, sleeping as he was, he still hugged me tightly, as 
though naught but death should part us twain. I now 
strove to rouse him * Queequeg ! ' but his only answer 
was a snore. I then rolled over, my neck feeling as if 
it were in a horse-collar ; and suddenly felt a slight 
scratch. Throwing aside the counterpane, there lay the 
tomahawk sleeping by the savage's side, as if it were a 
hatchet -faced baby. A pretty pickle, truly, thought I ; 
abed here in a strange house in the broad day, with a 
cannibal and a tomahawk ! ' Queequeg ! in the name 
of goodness, Queequeg, wake ! ' At length, by dint of 
much wriggling, and loud and incessant expostulations 
upon the unbecomingness of his hugging a fellow-male in 
that matrimonial sort of style, I succeeded in extracting 
a grunt ; and presently, he drew back his arm, shook 
himself all over like a Newfoundland dog just from the 
water, and sat up in bed, stiff as a pikestaff, looking at 
me, and rubbing his eyes as if he did not altogether re- 
member how I came to be there, though a dim conscious- 
ness of knowing something about me seemed slowly 
dawning over him. Meanwhile, I lay quietly eyeing him, 
having no serious misgivings now, and bent upon narrowly 

VOL. i. c 


observing so curious a creature. When, at last, his mind 
seemed made up touching the character of his bed- 
fellow, and he became, as it were, reconciled to the fact, 
he jumped out upon the floor, and by certain signs and 
sounds gave me to understand that, if it pleased me, he 
would dress first and then leave me to dress afterward, 
leaving the whole apartment to myself. Thinks I, 
Queequeg, under the circumstances, this is a very civilised 
overture ; but, the truth is, these savages have an innate 
sense of delicacy, say what you will ; it is marvellous how 
essentially polite they are. I pay this particular compli- 
ment to Queequeg, because he treated me with so much 
civility and consideration, while I was guilty of great 
rudeness ; staring at him from the bed, and watching all 
his toilet motions ; for the time my curiosity getting the 
better of my breeding. Nevertheless, a man like Quee- 
queg you don't see every day, he and his ways were well 
worth unusual regarding. 

He commenced dressing at top by donning his beaver 
hat, a very tall one, by the by, and then still minus his 
trowsers he hunted up his boots. What under the 
heavens he did it for, I cannot tell, but his next movement 
was to crush himself boots in hand, and hat on under 
the bed ; when, from sundry violent gaspings and strain- 
ings, I inferred he was hard at work booting himself ; 
though by no law of propriety that I ever heard of is 
any man required to be private when putting on his boots. 
But Queequeg, do you see, was a creature in the transi- 
tion state neither caterpillar nor butterfly. He was 
just enough civilised to show off his outlandishness in the 
strangest possible manner. His education was not yet 
completed. He was an undergraduate. If he had not 
been a small degree civilised, he very probably would 
not have troubled himself with boots at all ; but then, 
if he had not been still a savage, he never would have 


dreamt of getting under the bed to put them on. At 
last, he emerged with his hat very much dented and 
crushed down over his eyes, and began creaking and 
limping about the room, as if, not being much accustomed 
to boots, his pair of damp, wrinkled cowhide ones pro- 
bably not made to order either rather pinched and 
tormented him at the first go off of a bitter cold morning. 

Seeing, now, that there were no curtains to the window, 
and that the street being very narrow, the house opposite 
commanded a plain view into the room, and observing 
more and more the indecorous figure that Queequeg 
made, staving about with little else but his hat and boots 
on, I begged him as well as I could, to accelerate his 
toilet somewhat, and particularly to get into his panta- 
loons as soon as possible. He complied, and then pro- 
ceeded to wash himself. At that time in the morning 
any Christian would have washed his face ; but Queequeg, 
to my amazement, contented himself with restricting 
his ablutions to his chest, arms, and hands. He then 
donned his waistcoat, and taking up a piece of hard soap 
on the wash-stand centre table, dipped it into water and 
commenced lathering his face. I was watching to see 
where he kept his razor, when lo and behold, he takes the 
harpoon from the bed corner, slips out the long wooden 
stock, unsheathes the head, whets it a little on his boot, 
and striding up to the bit of mirror against the wall, 
begins a vigorous scraping, or rather harpooning of his 
cheeks. Thinks I, Queequeg, this is using Rogers's best 
cutlery with a vengeance. Afterward I wondered the 
less at this operation when I came to know of what 
fine steel the head of a harpoon is made, and how 
exceedingly sharp the long straight edges are always kept. 

The rest of his toilet was soon achieved, and he proudly 
marched out of the room, wrapped up in his great pilot 
monkey-jacket, and sporting his harpoon like a marshal's 



I QUICKLY followed suit, and descending into the bar-room 
accosted the grinning landlord very pleasantly. I 
cherished no malice toward him, though he had been 
skylarking with me not a little in the matter of my 

However, a good laugh is a mighty good thing, and 
rather too scarce a good thing ; the more 's the pity. So, 
if any one man, in his own proper person, afford stuff for 
a good joke to anybody, let him not be backward, but let 
him cheerfully allow himself to spend and be spent in 
that way. And the man that has anything bountifully 
laughable about him, be sure there is more in that man 
than you perhaps think for. 

The bar-room was now full of the boarders who had been 
dropping in the night previous, and whom I had not as 
yet had a good look at. They were nearly all whalemen ; 
chief mates, and second mates, and third mates, and sea- 
carpenters, and sea-coopers, and sea-blacksmiths, and 
harpooneers, and ship-keepers ; a brown and brawny 
company, with bosky beards ; an unshorn, shaggy set, 
all wearing monkey-jackets for morning gowns. 

You could pretty plainly tell how long each one had 
been ashore. This young fellow's healthy cheek is like 
a sun-toasted pear in hue, and would seem to smell 
almost as musky ; he cannot have been three days landed 
from his Indian voyage. That man next him looks a 
few shades lighter ; you might say a touch of satinwood 



is in him. In the complexion of a third still lingers a 
tropic tawn, but slightly bleached withal ; lie doubtless 
has tarried whole weeks ashore. But who could show a 
cheek like Queequeg ? which, barred with various tints, 
seemed like the Andes' western slope, to show forth in 
one array, contrasting climates, zone by zone. 

' Grub, ho ! ' now cried the landlord, flinging open a 
door, and in we went to breakfast. 

They say that men who have seen the world, thereby 
become quite at ease in manner, quite self-possessed in 
company. Not always, though : Ledyard, the great New 
England traveller, and Mungo Park, the Scotch one ; of 
all men, they possessed the least assurance in the parlour. 
But perhaps the mere crossing of Siberia in a sledge 
drawn by dogs as Ledyard did, or the taking a long solitary 
walk on an empty stomach, in the negro heart of Africa, 
which was the sum of poor Mungo 's performances this 
kind of travel, I say, may not be the very best mode of 
attaining a high social polish. Still, for the most part, 
that sort of thing is to be had anywhere. 

These reflections just here are occasioned by the cir- 
cumstance that after we were all seated at the table, and 
I was preparing to hear some good stories about whaling ; 
to my no small surprise nearly every man maintained a 
profound silence. And not only that, but they looked 
embarrassed. Yes, here were a set of sea-dogs, many of 
whom without the slightest bashfulness had boarded 
great whales on the high seas entire strangers to them 
and duelled them dead without winking ; and yet, here 
they sat at a social breakfast table all of the same calling, 
all of kindred tastes looking round as sheepishly at 
each other as though they had never been out of sight 
of some sheepfold among the Green Mountains. A 
curious sight ; these bashful bears, these timid warrior 
whalemen ! 


But as for Queequeg why, Queequeg sat there among 
them at the head of the table, too, it so chanced as 
cool as an icicle. To be sure, I cannot say much for his 
breeding. His greatest admirer could not have cordially 
justified his bringing his harpoon in to breakfast with him, 
and using it there without ceremony ; reaching over the 
table with it, to the imminent jeopardy of many heads, 
and grappling the beefsteaks toward him. But that 
was certainly very coolly done by him, and everyone 
knows that in most people's estimation, to do anything 
coolly is to do it genteelly. 

We will not speak of all Queequeg's peculiarities here ; 
how he eschewed coffee and hot rolls, and applied his 
undivided attention to beefsteaks, done rare. Enough, 
that when breakfast was over he withdrew like the rest 
into the public room, lighted his tomahawk-pipe, and was 
sitting there quietly digesting and smoking with his 
inseparable hat on, when I sallied out for a stroll. 



IF I had been astonished at first catching a glimpse of so 
outlandish an individual as Queequeg circulating among 
the polite society of a civilised town, that astonishment 
soon departed upon taking my first daylight stroll through 
the streets of New Bedford. 

In thoroughfares nigh the docks, any considerable sea- 
port will frequently offer to view the queerest -looking 
nondescripts from foreign parts. Even in Broadway 
and Chestnut Streets, Mediterranean mariners will some- 
times jostle the affrighted ladies. Regent Street is not 
unknown to Lascars and Malays ; and at Bombay, in the 
Apollo Green, live Yankees have often scared the natives. 
But New Bedford beats all Water Street and Wapping. 
In these last -mentioned haunts you see only sailors ; but 
in New Bedford actual cannibals stand chatting at street 
corners ; savages outright ; many of whom yet carry on 
their bones unholy flesh. It makes a stranger stare. 

But, besides the Feegeeans, Tongatabooarrs, Erro- 
manggoans, Pannangians, and Brighggians, and besides 
the wild specimens of the whaling -craft which unheeded 
reel about the streets, you will see other sights still more 
curious, certainly more comical. There weekly arrive 
in this town scores of green Vermonters and New Hamp- 
shire men, all athirst for gain and glory in the fishery. 
They are mostly young, of stalwart frames ; fellows who 
have felled forests, and now seek to drop the axe and 
snatch the whale-lance. Many are as green as the Green 


Mountains whence they came. In some things you would 
think them but a few hours old. Look there ! that chap 
strutting round the corner. He wears a beaver hat and 
swallow-tailed coat, girdled with a sailor -belt and a sheath- 
knife. Here comes another with a sou '-wester and a 
bombazine cloak. 

No town-bred dandy will compare with a country-bred 
one I mean a downright bumpkin dandy a fellow that, 
in the dog-days, will mow his two acres in buckskin 
gloves for fear of tanning his hands. Now when a country 
dandy like this takes it into his head to make a distin- 
guished reputation, and joins the great whale-fishery, you 
should see the comical things he does upon reaching the 
seaport. In bespeaking his sea -out fit, he orders bell- 
buttons to his waistcoats ; straps to his canvas trowsers. 
Ah, poor Hay-Seed ! how bitterly will burst those straps 
in the first howling gale, when thou art driven, straps/ 
buttons, and all, down the throat of the tempest. 

But think not that this famous town has only har- 
pooneers, cannibals, and bumpkins to show her visitors. 
Not at all. Still New Bedford is a queer place. Had it 
not been for us whalemen, that tract of land would this 
day perhaps have been in as howling condition as the 
coast of Labrador. As it is, parts of her back country 
are enough to frighten one, they look so bony. The town 
itself is perhaps the dearest place to live in, hi all New 
England. It is a land of oil, true enough : but not like 
Caanan ; a land, also, of corn and wine. The streets do 
not run with milk ; nor in the spring-time do they pave 
them with fresh eggs. Yet, in spite of this, nowhere in 
all America will you find more patrician-like houses ; 
parks and gardens more opulent, than hi New Bedford. 
Whence came they ? how planted upon this once scraggy 
scoria of a country ? 

Go and gaze upon the iron emblematical harpoons 


round yonder lofty mansion, and your question will be 
answered. Yes ; all these brave houses and flowery 
gardens came from the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. 
One and all, they were harpooned and dragged up hither 
from the bottom of the sea. Can Herr Alexander per- 
form a feat like that ? 

In New Bedford, fathers, they say, give whales for 
dowers to their daughters, and portion off their nieces 
with a few porpoises apiece. You must go to New Bed- 
ford to see a brilliant wedding ; for, they say, they have 
reservoirs of oil in every house, and every night recklessly 
burn their lengths in spermaceti candles. 

In summer time, the town is sweet to see ; full of fine 
maples long avenues of green and gold. And in August, 
high in air, the beautiful and bountiful horse-chestnuts, 
candelabra-wise, proffer the passer-by their tapering 
upright cones of congregated blossoms. So omnipotent \ 
is art ; which in many a district of New Bedford has 
superinduced bright terraces of flowers upon the barren 
refuse rocks thrown aside at Creation's final day. 

And the women of New Bedford, they bloom like their 
own red roses. But roses only bloom in summer ; whereas 
the fine carnation of their cheeks is perennial as sunlight 
in the seventh heavens. Elsewhere match that bloom 
of theirs, ye cannot, save in Salem, where they tell me 
the young girls breathe such musk, their sailor sweet- 
hearts smell them miles off shore, as though they were 
drawing nigh the odorous Moluccas instead of the Puritanic 



IN this same New Bedford there stands a Whaleman's 
Chapel, and few are the moody fishermen, shortly bound 
for the Indian Ocean or Pacific, who fail to make a Sunday 
visit to the spot. I am sure that I did not. 

Returning from my first morning stroll, I again sallied 
out upon this special errand. The sky had changed from 
clear, sunny cold, to driving sleet and mist. Wrapping 
myself in my shaggy jacket of the cloth called bearskin, 
I fought my way against the stubborn storm. Entering, 
I found a small scattered congregation of sailors, and 
sailors' wives and widows. A muffled silence reigned, 
only broken at times by the shrieks of the storm. Each 
silent worshipper seemed purposely sitting apart from 
the other, as if each silent grief were insular and incom- 
municable. The chaplain had not yet arrived ; and there 
these silent islands of men and women sat steadfastly 
eyeing several marble tablets, with black borders, masoned 
into the wall on either side the pulpit. Three of them 
ran something like the following, but I do not pretend to 
quote : 




Who, at the age of eighteen, was lost overboard, 

Near the Isle of Desolation, off Patagonia, 

November 1st, 1836. 


Is erected to his Memory 





^o tlje em orp 





Forming one of the boats' crews 


Who were towed out of sight by a Whale, 
On the Ofi-shore Ground in the 

December 3lst, 1839. 


Is here placed by their surviving 


Eo tfje 


The late 


Who in the bows of his boat was killed by a 

Sperm Whale on the coast of Japan, 

August 3d, 1833. 


Is erected to his Memory 


Shaking off the sleet from my ice-glazed hat and jacket, 
I seated myself near the door, and turning sideways was 
surprised to see Queequeg near me. Affected by the 
solemnity of the scene, there was a wondering gaze of 
incredulous curiosity in his countenance. This savage 
was the only person present who seemed to notice my 
entrance ; because he was the only one who could not 
read, and, therefore, was not reading those frigid inscrip- 
tions on the wall. Whether any of the relatives of the 


seamen whose names appeared there were now among 
the congregation, I knew not ; but so many are the unre- 
corded accidents in the fishery, and so plainly did several 
women present wear the countenance if not the trappings 
of some unceasing grief, that I feel sure that here before 
me were assembled those, in whose unhealing hearts the 
sight of those bleak tablets sympathetically caused the 
old wounds to bleed afresh. 

Oh ! ye whose dead lie buried beneath the green grass ; 
who standing among flowers can say here, here lies my 
beloved ; ye know not the desolation that broods in 
bosoms like these. What bitter blanks in those black- 
bordered marbles which cover no ashes ! What despair 
in those immovable inscriptions ! What deadly voids 
and unbidden infidelities in the lines that seem to gnaw 
upon all Faith, and refuse resurrections to the beings who 
have placelessly perished without a grave. As well might 
those tablets stand in the cave of Elephanta as here. 

Li what census of living creatures, the dead of mankind 
are included ; why it is that a universal proverb says of 
them, that they tell no tales, though containing more 
secrets than the Goodwin Sands ; how it is that to his 
name who yesterday departed for the other world, we 
prefix so significant and infidel a word, and yet do not 
thus entitle him, if he but embarks for the remotest Indies 
of this living earth ; why the Life Insurance Companies 
pay death-forfeitures upon immortals ; in what eternal, 
unstirring paralysis, and deadly, hopeless trance, yet lies 
antique Adam who died sixty round centuries ago ; how 
it is that we still refuse to be comforted for those who we 
nevertheless maintain are dwelling in unspeakable bliss ; 
why all the living so strive to hush all the dead ; wherefore 
but the rumour of a knocking in a tomb will terrify a 
whole city. All these things are not without their 


But Faith, like a jackal, feeds among the tombs, and 
even from these dead doubts she gathers her most vital 

It needs scarcely to be told, with what feelings, on the 
eve of a Nantucket voyage, I regarded those marble 
tablets, and by the murky light of that darkened, doleful 
day read the fate of the whalemen who had gone before 
me. Yes, Ishmael, the same fate may be thine. But 
somehow I grew merry again. Delightful inducements to 
embark, fine chance for promotion, it seems ay, a 
stove boat will make me an immortal by brevet. Yes, 
there is death in this business of whaling a speechlessly 
quick chaotic bundling of a man into Eternity. But what 
then ? Methinks we have hugely mistaken this matter 
of Life and Death. Methinks that what they call my 
shadow here on earth is my true substance. Methinks 
that in looking at things spiritual, we are too much like 
oysters observing the sun through the water, and thinking 
that thick water the thinnest of air. Methinks my body 
is but the lees of my better being. In fact, take my body 
who will, take it I say, it is not me. And therefore three 
cheers for Nantucket ; and come a stove boat and stove 
body when they will, for stave my soul, Jove himself 



I HAD not been seated very long ere a man of a certain 
venerable robustness entered ; immediately as the storm- 
pelted door flew back upon admitting him, a quick regard- 
ful eyeing of him by all the congregation sufficiently 
attested that this fine old man was the chaplain. Yes, 
it was the famous Father Mapple, so called by the whale- 
men, among whom he was a very great favourite. He 
had been a sailor and a harpooneer in his youth, but for 
many years past had dedicated his life to the ministry. 
At the time I now write of, Father Mapple was in the 
hardy winter of a healthy old age ; that sort of old age 
which seems merging into a second flowering youth, for 
among all the fissures of his wrinkles, there shone certain 
mild gleams of a newly developing bloom the spring 
verdure peeping forth even beneath February's snow. 
No one having previously heard his history, could for 
the first time behold Father Mapple without the utmost 
interest, because there were certain engrafted clerical 
peculiarities about him, imputable to that adventurous 
maritime life he had led. When he entered I observed 
that he carried no umbrella, and certainly had not come 
in his carriage, for his tarpaulin hat ran down with melting 
sleet, and his great pilot-cloth jacket seemed almost to 
drag him to the floor with the weight of the water it had 
absorbed. However, hat and coat and overshoes were 
one by one removed, and hung up in a little space in an 
adjacent corner ; when, arrayed in a decent suit, he 
quietly approached the pulpit. 



Like most old-fashioned pulpits, it was a very lofty one, 
and since a regular stairs to such a height would, by its 
long angle with the floor, seriously contract the already 
small area of the chapel, the architect, it seemed, had 
acted upon the hint of Father Mapple, and finished the 
pulpit without a stairs, substituting a perpendicular side 
ladder, like those used in mounting a ship from a boat at 
sea. The wife of a whaling-captain had provided the chapel 
with a handsome pair of red worsted man-ropes for this 
ladder, which, being itself nicely headed, and stained with 
a mahogany colour, the whole contrivance, considering 
what manner of chapel it was, seemed by no means in bad 
taste. Halting for an instant at the foot of the ladder, 
and with both hands grasping the ornamental knobs 
of the man-ropes, Father Mapple cast a look upward, 
and then with a truly sailor-like but still reverential 
dexterity, hand over hand, mounted the steps as if 
ascending the main -top of his vessel. 

The perpendicular parts of this side ladder, as is usually 
the case with swinging ones, were of cloth-covered rope, 
only the rounds were of wood, so that at every step there 
was a joint. At my first glimpse of the pulpit, it had not 
escaped me that however convenient for a ship, these 
joints in the present instance seemed unnecessary. For 
I was not prepared to see Father Mapple after gaining 
the height, slowly turn round, and stooping over the 
pulpit, deliberately drag up the ladder step by step, till 
the whole was deposited within, leaving him impregnable 
in his little Quebec. 

I pondered some time without fully comprehending 
the reason for this. Father Mapple enjoyed such a wide 
reputation for sincerity and sanctity, that I could not 
suspect him of courting notoriety by any mere tricks of 
the stage. No, thought I, there must be some sober 
reason for this thing ; furthermore, it must symbolise 


something unseen. Can it be, then, that by that act of 
physical isolation, he signifies his spiritual withdrawal for 
the time, from all outward worldly ties and connections ? 
Yes, for replenished with the meat and wine of the word, 
to the faithful man of God, this pulpit, I see, is a self- 
containing stronghold a lofty Ehrenbreitstein, with a 
perennial well of water within the walls. 

But the side ladder was not the only strange feature 
of the place, borrowed from the chaplain's former sea- 
farings. Between the marble cenotaphs on either hand 
of the pulpit, the wall which formed its back was adorned 
with a large painting representing a gallant ship beating 
against a terrible storm off a lee coast of black rocks and 
snowy breakers. But high above the flying scud and 
dark-rolling clouds, there floated a little isle of sunlight, 
from which beamed forth an angel's face ; and this bright 
face shed a distinct spot of radiance upon the ship's tossed 
deck, something like that silver plate now inserted into the 
Victory's plank where Nelson fell. ' Ah, noble ship/ the 
angel seemed to say, 'beat on, beat on, thou noble ship, and 
bear a hardy helm ; for lo ! the sun is breaking through ; 
the clouds are rolling off serenest azure is at hand.' 

Nor was the pulpit itself without a trace of the same 
sea -taste that had achieved the ladder and the picture. 
Its panelled front was in the likeness of a ship's bluff bows, 
and the Holy Bible rested on a projecting piece of scroll 
work, fashioned after a ship's fiddle -headed beak. 

What could be more full of meaning ? for the pulpit 
is ever this earth's foremost part ; all the rest comes in 
its rear ; the pulpit leads the world. From thence it is 
the storm of God's quick wrath is first descried, and the 
bow must bear the earliest brunt. From thence it is the 
God of breezes fair or foul is first invoked for favourable 
winds. Yes, the world 's a ship on its passage out, and 
not a voyage complete ; and the pulpit is its prow. 



FATHER MAPPLE rose, and in a mild voice of unassuming 
authority ordered the scattered people to condense. 
' Starboard gangway, there ! side away to larboard 
larboard gangway to starboard ! Midships ! midships ! ' 

There was a low rumbling of heavy sea-boots among the 
benches, and a still slighter shuffling of women's shoes, 
and all was quiet again, and every eye on the preacher. 

He paused a little ; then kneeling in the pulpit's bows, 
folded his large brown hands across his chest, uplifted 
his closed eyes, and offered a prayer so deeply devout 
that he seemed kneeling and praying at the bottom of 
the sea. 

This ended, in prolonged solemn tones, like the continual 
tolling of a bell in a ship that is foundering at sea in a fog 
in such tones he commenced reading the following hymn ; 
but changing his manner toward the concluding stanzas, 
burst forth with a pealing exultation and joy : 

* The ribs and terrors in the whale 

Arched over me a dismal gloom, 
While all God's sun-lit waves rolled by, 
And lift me deepening down to doom. 

' I saw the opening maw of hell, 

With endless pains and sorrows there ; 
Which none but they that feel can tell 
Oh, I was plunging to despair. 

VOL. I. D 


4 In black distress, I called my God, 

When I could scarce believe him mine, 
He bowed his ear to my complaints 
No more the whale did me confine. 

' With speed he flew to my relief, 

As on a radiant dolphin borne ; 
Awful, yet bright, as lightning shone 
The face of my Deliverer God. 

' My song for ever shall record 

That terrible, that joyful hour ; 
I give the glory to my God, 

His all the mercy and the power.' 

Nearly all joined in singing this hymn, which swelled 
high above the howling of the storm. A brief pause 
ensued ; the preacher slowly turned over the leaves of 
the Bible, and at last, folding his hand down upon the 
proper page, said : ' Beloved shipmates, clinch the last 
verse of the first chapter of Jonah " And God had pre- 
pared a great fish to swallow up Jonah." 

' Shipmates, this book, containing only four chapters 
four yarns is one of the smallest strands in the mighty 
cable of the Scriptures. Yet what depths of the soul does 
Jonah's deep sea-line sound ! what a pregnant lesson to 
us is this prophet ! What a noble thing is that canticle 
in the fish's belly ! How billow-like and boisterously 
grand ! We feel the floods surging over us ; we sound with 
him to the kelpy bottom of the waters ; sea-weed and all 
the slime of the sea is about us ! But what is this lesson 
that the book of Jonah teaches ? Shipmates, it is a two- 
stranded lesson ; a lesson to us all as sinful men, and a 
lesson to me as a pilot of the living God. As sinful men, 
it is a lesson to us all, because it is a story of the sin, hard- 
heartedness, suddenly awakened fears, the swift punish- ! 


ment, repentance, prayers, and finally the deliverance and 
joy of Jonah. As with all sinners among men, the sin 
of this son of Amittai was in his wilful disobedience of the 
command of God never mind now what that command 
was, or how conveyed which he found a hard command. 
But all the things that God would have us do are hard for 
us to do remember that and hence, He oftener com- 
mands us than endeavours to persuade. And if we obey 
God, we must disobey ourselves ; and it is in this dis- 
obeying ourselves, wherein the hardness of obeying God 

' With this sin of disobedience in him, Jonah still 
further flouts at God, by seeking to flee from Him. He 
thinks that a ship made by men will carry him into 
countries where God does not reign, but only the captains 
of this earth. He skulks about the wharves of Joppa, 
and seeks a ship that 's bound for Tarshish. There lurks, 
perhaps, a hitherto unheeded meaning here. By all 
accounts Tarshish could have been no other city than the 
modern Cadiz. That 's the opinion of learned men. And 
where is Cadiz, shipmates ? Cadiz is in Spain ; as far by 
water, from Joppa, as Jonah could possibly have sailed 
in those ancient days, when the Atlantic was an almost 
unknown sea. Because Joppa, the modern Jaffa, ship- 
mates, is on the most easterly coast of the Mediterranean, 
the Syrian ; and Tarshish or Cadiz more than two thousand 
miles to the westward from that, just outside the Straits 
of Gibraltar. See ye not then, shipmates, that Jonah 
sought to flee world- wide from God ? Miserable man ! 
Oh ! most contemptible and worthy of all scorn ; with 
slouched hat and guilty eye, skulking from his God ; 
prowling among the shipping like a vile burglar hastening 
to cross the seas. So disordered, self -condemning is his 
look, that had there been policemen in those days, Jonah, 
on the mere suspicion of something wrong, had been 


arrested ere he touched a deck. How plainly he 's a 
fugitive ! no baggage, not a hat-box, valise, or carpet- 
bag, no friends accompany him to the wharf with their 
adieux. At last, after much dodging search, he finds the 
Tarshish ship receiving the last items of her cargo ; and 
as he steps on board to see its captain in the cabin, all 
the sailors for the moment desist from hoisting in the 
goods, to mark the stranger's evil eye. Jonah sees this ; 
but in vain he tries to look ah 1 ease and confidence ; in 
vain essays his wretched smile. Strong intuitions of the 
man assure the mariners he can be no innocent. In their 
gamesome but still serious way, one whispers to the other 
" Jack, he 's robbed a widow " ; or, " Joe, do you mark 
him ; he 's a bigamist " ; or, " Harry, lad, I guess he 's the 
adulterer that broke jail in old Gomorrah, or belike, one 
of the missing murderers from Sodom." Another runs 
to read the bill that 's stuck against the spile upon the 
wharf to which the ship is moored, offering five hundred 
gold coins for the apprehension of a. parricide, and con- 
taining a description of his person. He reads, and looks 
from Jonah to the bill ; while all his sympathetic ship- 
mates now crowd round Jonah, prepared to lay their 
hands upon him. Frighted Jonah trembles, and summon- 
ing all his boldness to his face, only looks so much the 
more a coward. He will not confess himself suspected ; 
but that itself is strong suspicion. So he makes the best 
of it ; and when the sailors find him not to be the man that 
is advertised, they let him pass, and he descends into the 

' " Who 's there ? " cries the captain at his busy desk, 
hurriedly making out his papers for the Customs "Who 's 
there ? " Oh ! how that harmless question mangles 
Jonah ! For the instant he almost turns to flee again. 
But he rallies. " I seek a passage in this ship to Tarshish ; 
how soon sail ye, sir ? " Thus far the busy captain had 


not looked up to Jonah, though the man now stands 
before him ; but no sooner does he hear that hollow voice, 
than he darts a scrutinising glance. " We sail with the 
next coming tide," at last he slowly answered, still 
intently eyeing him. " No sooner, sir ? " " Soon enough 
for any honest man that goes a passenger." Ha ! Jonah, 
that 's another stab. But he swiftly calls away the 
captain from that scent. " I '11 sail with ye," he says, 
" the passage money, how much is that ? I '11 pay 
now." For it is particularly written, shipmates, as if it 
were a thing not to be overlooked in this history, " that 
he paid the fare thereof " ere the craft did sail. And 
taken with the context, this is full of meaning. 

' Now Jonah's captain, shipmates, was one whose dis- 
cernment detects crime in any, but whose cupidity exposes 
it only in the penniless. In this world, shipmates, sin 
that pays its way can travel freely, and without a pass- 
port ; whereas Virtue, if a pauper, is stopped at all 
frontiers. So Jonah's captain prepares to test the length 
of Jonah's purse, ere he judge him openly. He charges 
him thrice the usual sum ; and it 's assented to. Then 
the captain knows that Jonah is a fugitive ; but at the 
same time resolves to help a flight that paves its rear with 
gold. Yet when Jonah fairly takes out his purse, prudent 
suspicions still molest the captain. He rings every coin 
to find a counterfeit. Not a forger, anyway, he mutters ; 
and Jonah is put down for his passage. " Point out my 
state-room, sir," says Jonah now, " I 'm travel- weary ; 
I need sleep." "Thou look'st like it," says the captain, 
" there 's thy room." Jonah enters, and would lock the 
door, but the lock contains no key. Hearing him foolishly 
fumbling there, the captain laughs lowly to himself, and 
mutters something about the doors of convicts' cells being 
never allowed to be locked within. All dressed and dusty 
as he is, Jonah throws himself into his berth, and finds 


the little state-room ceiling almost resting on his forehead. 
The air is close, and Jonah gasps. Then, in that con- 
tracted hole, sunk, too, beneath the ship's water-line, 
Jonah feels the heralding presentiment of that stifling 
hour, when the whale shall hold him in the smallest of 
his bowel's wards. 

' Screwed at its axis against the side, a swinging lamp 
slightly oscillates in Jonah's room ; and the ship, heeling 
over toward the wharf with the weight of the last bales 
received, the lamp, flame and all, though in slight motion, 
still maintains a permanent obliquity with reference to 
the room ; though, in truth, infallibly straight itself, it 
but made obvious the false, lying levels among which it 
hung. The lamp alarms and frightens Jonah ; as lying 
in his berth his tormented eyes roll round the place, and 
this thus far successful fugitive finds no refuge for his 
restless glance. But that contradiction in the lamp more 
and more appals him. The floor, the ceiling, and the 
side, are all awry. " Oh ! so my conscience hangs in 
me ! " he groans, " straight upward, so it burns ; but the 
chambers of my soul are all in crookedness ! " 

' Like one who after a night of drunken revelry hies 
to his bed, still reeling, but with conscience yet pricking 
him, as the plungings of the Roman race -horse but so 
much the more strike his steel tags into him ; as one who 
in that miserable plight still turns and turns in giddy 
anguish, praying God for annihilation until the fit be 
passed ; and at last amid the whirl of woe he feels, a deep 
stupor steals over him, as over the man who bleeds to 
death, for conscience is the wound, and there 's naught 
to staunch it ; so, after sore wrestlings in his berth, 
Jonah's prodigy of ponderous misery drags him drowning 
down to sleep. 

c And now the time of tide has come ; the ship casts 
off her cables ; and from the deserted wharf the un- 


cheered ship for Tarshish, all careening, glides to sea. 
That ship, my friends, was the first of recorded smugglers ! 
the contraband was Jonah. But the sea rebels ; he will 
not bear the wicked burden. A dreadful storm comes on, 
the ship is like to break. But now when the boatswain 
calls all hands to lighten her ; when boxes, bales, and 
jars are clattering overboard ; when the wind is shrieking, 
and the men are yelling, and every plank thunders with 
trampling feet right over Jonah's head ; in all this raging 
tumult, Jonah sleeps his hideous sleep. He sees no black 
sky and raging sea, feels not the reeling timbers, and little 
hears he or heeds he the far rush of the mighty whale, 
which even now with open mouth is cleaving the seas 
after him. Ay, shipmates, Jonah was gone down into 
the sides of the ship a berth in the cabin as I have taken 
it and was fast asleep. But the frightened master comes 
to him, and shrieks hi his dead ear, " What meanest thou, 
sleeper ! arise ! " Startled from his lethargy by that 
direful cry, Jonah staggers to his feet, and stumbling to 
the deck, grasps a shroud, to look out upon the sea. But 
at that moment he is sprung upon by a panther billow 
leaping over the bulwarks. Wave after wave thus leaps 
into the ship, and finding no speedy vent runs roaring 
fore and aft, till the mariners come nigh to drowning 
while yet afloat. And ever, as the white moon shows her 
affrighted face from the steep gullies in the blackness 
overhead, aghast Jonah sees the rearing bowsprit pointing 
high upward, but soon beat downward again toward the 
tormented deep. 

' Terrors upon terrors run shouting through his soul. 
In all his cringing attitudes, the God-fugitive is now too 
plainly known. The sailors mark him ; more and more 
certain grow their suspicions of him, and at last, fully 
to test the truth, by referring the whole matter to high 
Heaven, they fall to casting lots, to see for whose cause 


this great tempest was upon them. The lot is Jonah's ; 
that discovered, then how furiously they mob him with 
their questions. " What is thine occupation ? Whence 
comest thou ? Thy country ? What people ? " But 
mark now, my shipmates, the behaviour of poor Jonah. 
The eager mariners but ask him who he is, and where 
from ; whereas, they not only receive an answer to those 
questions, but likewise another answer to a question not 
put by them, but the unsolicited answer is forced from 
Jonah by the hard hand of God that is upon him. 

' " I am a Hebrew," he cries and then " I fear the 
Lord the God of Heaven who hath made the sea and the 
dry land ! " Fear him, O Jonah ? Ay, well mightest 
thou fear the Lord God then ! Straightway, he now goes 
on to make a full confession ; whereupon the mariners 
became more and more appalled, but still are pitiful. 
For when Jonah, not yet supplicating God for mercy, 
since he but too well knew the darkness of his deserts, 
when wretched Jonah cries out to them to take him and 
cast him forth into the sea, for he knew that for his sake 
this great tempest was upon them ; they mercifully turn 
from him, and seek by other means to save the ship. 
But all in vain ; the indignant gale howls louder ; then, 
with one hand raised invokingly to God, with the other 
they not unreluctantly lay hold of Jonah. 

' And now behold Jonah taken up as an anchor and 
dropped into the sea ; when instantly an oily calmness 
floats out from the east, and the sea is still, as Jonah 
carries down the gale with him, leaving smooth water 
behind. He goes down in the whirling heart of such a 
masterless commotion that he scarce heeds the moment 
when he drops seething into the yawning jaws awaiting 
him ; and the whale shoots-to all his ivory teeth, like so 
many white bolts, upon his prison. Then Jonah prayed 
unto the Lord out of the fish's belly. But observe his 


prayer, and learn a weighty lesson. For sinful as he is, 
Jonah does not weep and wail for direct deliverance. 
He feels that his dreadful punishment is just. He leaves 
all his deliverance to God, contenting himself with this, 
that spite of all his pains and pangs, he will still look 
toward His holy temple. And here, shipmates, is true 
and faithful repentance ; not clamorous for pardon, but 
grateful for punishment. And how pleasing to God was 
this conduct in Jonah, is shown in the eventual deliver- 
ance of him from the sea and the whale. Shipmates, I 
do not place Jonah before you to be copied for his sin, 
but I do place him before you as a model for repentance. 
Sin not ; but if you do, take heed to repent of it like Jonah. ' 

While he was speaking these words, the howling of the 
shrieking, slanting storm without seemed to add new 
power to the preacher, who, when describing Jonah's sea- 
storm, seemed tossed by a storm himself. His deep chest 
heaved as with a ground-swell ; his tossed arms seemed 
the warring elements at work ; and the thunders that 
rolled away from off his swarthy brow, and the light 
leaping from his eye, made all his simple hearers look on 
him with a quick fear that was strange to them. 

There now came a lull in his look, as he silently turned 
over the leaves of the Book once more ; and, at last, 
standing motionless, with closed eyes, for the moment, 
seemed communing with God and himself. 

But again he leaned over toward the people, and 
bowing his head lowly, with an aspect of the deepest 
yet manliest humility, he spake these words : 

c Shipmates, God has laid but one hand upon you ; 
both his hands press upon me. I have read ye by what 
murky light may be mine the lesson that Jonah teaches 
to all sinners ; and therefore to ye, and still more to me, 
for I am a greater sinner than ye. And now how gladly 
would I come down from this mast-head and sit on the 


hatches there where you sit, and listen as you listen, 
while some one of you reads me that other and more 
awful lesson which Jonah teaches to me, as a pilot of the 
living God. How being an anointed pilot -prophet, or 
speaker of true things, and bidden by the Lord to sound 
those unwelcome truths in the ears of a wicked Nineveh, 
Jonah, appalled at the hostility he should raise, fled from 
his mission, and sought to escape his duty and his God by 
taking ship at Joppa. But God is everywhere ; Tarshish 
he never reached. As we have seen, God came upon him 
in the whale, and swallowed him down to living gulfs 
of doom, and with swift slantings tore him along " into 
the midst of the seas," where the eddying depths sucked 
him ten thousand fathoms down, and " the weeds were 
wrapped about his head," and all the watery world of woe 
bowled over him. Yet even then beyond the reach of any 
plummet " out of the belly of hell " when the whale 
grounded upon the ocean's utmost bones, even then, God 
heard the engulphed, repenting prophet when he cried. 
Then God spake unto the fish ; and from the shuddering 
cold and blackness of the sea, the whale came breaching 
up toward the warm and pleasant sun, and all the delights 
of air and earth ; and " vomited out Jonah upon the dry 
land " ; when the word of the Lord came a second time ; 
and Jonah, bruised and beaten his ears, like two sea- 
shells, still multitudinously murmuring of the ocean 
Jonah did the Almighty's bidding. And what was that, 
shipmates ? To preach the Truth to the face of False- 
hood ! That was it ! 

' This, shipmates, this is that other lesson ; and we 
to that pilot of the living God who slights it. Woe to 
him whom this world charms from Gospel duty ! Woe 
to him who seeks to pour oil upon the waters when God 
has brewed them into a gale ! Woe to him who seeks 
to please rather than to appal ! Woe to him whose good 


name is more to him than goodness ! Woe to him who, 
in this world, courts not dishonour ! Woe to him who 
would not be true, even though to be false were salva- 
tion ! Yea, woe to him who, as the great Pilot Paul has 
it, while preaching to others is himself a castaway ! ' 

He drooped and fell away from himself for a moment ; 
then lifting his face to them again, showed a deep joy 
in his eyes, as he cried out with a heavenly enthusiasm, 
' But oh ! shipmates ! on the starboard hand of every 
woe, there is a sure delight ; and higher the top of that 
delight, than the bottom of the woe is deep. Is not the 
main-truck higher than the kelson is low ? Delight is to 
him a far, far upward, and inward delight who against 
the proud gods and commodores of this earth, ever stands 
forth his own inexorable self. Delight is to him whose 
strong arms yet support him, when the ship of this base 
treacherous world has gone down beneath him. Delight 
is to him, who gives no quarter in the truth, and kills, 
burns, and destroys all sin though he pluck it out from 
under the robes of Senators and Judges. Delight, top- 
gallant delight is to him, who acknowledges no law or 
lord, but the Lord his God, and is only a patriot to heaven. 
Delight is to him, whom all the waves of the billows of 
the seas of the boisterous mob can never shake from this 
sure Keel of the Ages. And eternal delight and delicious- 
ness will be his, who coming to lay him down, can say with 
his final breath Father ! chiefly known to me by 
Thy rod mortal or immortal, here I die. I have striven 
to be Thine, more than to be this world's, or mine own. 
Yet this is nothing ; I leave eternity to Thee ; for what 
is man that he should live out the lifetime of his God 1 ' 

He said no more, but slowly waving a benediction, 
covered his face with his hands, and so remained kneeling, 
till all the people had departed, and he was left alone in 
the place. 



RETURNING to the Spouter-Inn from the Chapel, I found 
Queequeg there quite alone ; he having left the Chapel 
before the benediction some time. He was sitting on a 
bench before the fire, with his feet on the stove hearth, 
and in one hand was holding close up to his face that 
little negro idol of his ; peering hard into its face, and 
with a jack-knife gently whittling away at its nose, 
meanwhile humming to himself in his heathenish way. 

But being now interrupted, he put up the image ; and 
pretty soon, going to the table, took up a large book there, 
and placing it on his lap began counting the pages with 
deliberate regularity ; at every fiftieth page as I fancied 
stopping a moment, looking vacantly around him, 
and giving utterance to a long-drawn gurgling whistle 
of astonishment. He would then begin again at the next 
fifty ; seeming to commence at number one each time, 
as though he could not count more than fifty, and it 
was only by such a large number of fifties being found 
together, that his astonishment at the multitude of pages 
was excited. 

With much interest I sat watching him. Savage 
though he was, and hideously marred about the face 
at least to my taste his countenance yet had a something 
in it which was by no means disagreeable. You cannot 
hide the soul. Through all his unearthly tattooings, I 
thought I saw the traces of a simple honest heart ; and 
in his large, deep eyes, fiery black and bold, there seemed 



tokens of a spirit that would dare a thousand devils. 
And besides all this, there was a certain lofty bearing 
about the pagan, which even his uncouthness could not 
altogether maim. He looked like a man who had never 
cringed and never had had a creditor. Whether it was, 
too, that his head being shaved, his forehead was drawn 
out in freer and brighter relief, and looked more expansive 
than it otherwise would, this I will not venture to decide ; 
but certain it was his head was phrenologically an ex- 
cellent one. It may seem ridiculous, but it reminded me 
of General Washington's head, as seen in the popular 
busts of him. It had the same long regularly graded 
retreating slope from above the brows, which were like- 
wise very projecting, like two long promontories thickly 
wooded on top. Queequeg was George Washington 
cannibalistically developed. 

Whilst I was thus closely scanning him, half pretending 
meanwhile to be looking out at the storm from the case- 
ment, he never heeded my presence, never troubled him- 
self with so much as a single glance ; but appeared wholly 
occupied with counting the pages of the marvellous book. 
Considering how sociably we had been sleeping together 
the night previous, and especially considering the affection- 
ate arm I had found thrown over me upon waking in the 
morning, I thought this indifference of his very strange. 
But savages are strange beings ; at times you do not 
know exactly how to take them. At first they are over- 
awing ; their calm self-collectedness of simplicity seems 
a Socratic wisdom. I had noticed also that Queequeg 
never consorted at all, or but very little, with the other 
seamen in the inn. He made no advances whatever ; 
appeared to have no desire to enlarge the circle of his 
acquaintances. All this struck me as mighty singular ; 
yet, upon second thoughts, there was something almost 
sublime in it. Here was a man some twenty thousand 



miles from home, by the way of Cape Horn, that is 
which was the only way he could get there thrown 
among people as strange to him as though he were in the 
planet Jupiter ; and yet he seemed entirely at his ease ; 
preserving the utmost serenity ; content with his own 
companionship ; always equal to himself. Surely this 
was a touch of fine philosophy ; though no doubt he had 
never heard there was such a thing as that. But, per- 
haps, to be true philosophers, we mortals should not 
be conscious of so living or so striving. So soon as I 
hear that such or such a man gives himself out for a 
philosopher, I conclude that, like the dyspeptic old woman, 
he must have ' broken his digester.' 

As I sat there in that now lonely room ; the fire burn- 
ing low, in that mild stage when, after its first intensity 
has warmed the air, it then only glows to be looked at ; 
the evening shades and phantoms gathering round the 
casements, and peering in upon us silent, solitary twain ; 
the storm booming without in solemn swells ; I began to 
be sensible of strange feelings. I felt a melting in me. 
No more my splintered heart and maddened hand were 
turned against the wolfish world. This soothing savage 
had redeemed it. There he sat, his very indifference 
speaking a nature in which there lurked no civilised 
hypocrisies and bland deceits. Wild he was ; a very 
sight of sights to see ; yet I began to feel myself mysteri- 
ously drawn toward him. And those same things that 
would have repelled most others, they were the very 
magnets that thus drew me. 1 11 try a pagan friend, 
thought I, since Christian kindness has proved but hollow 
courtesy. I drew my bench near him, and made some 
friendly signs and hints, doing my best to talk with him 
meanwhile. At first he little noticed these advances ; 
but presently, upon my referring to his last night's 
hospitalities, he made out to ask me whether we were 



again to be bedfellows. I told him yes ; whereat I 
thought he looked pleased, perhaps a little complimented. 

We then turned over the book together, and I en- 
deavoured to explain to him the purpose of the printing, 
and the meaning of the few pictures that were in it. Thus 
I soon engaged his interest ; and from that we went to 
jabbering the best we could about the various outer sights 
to be seen in this famous town. Soon I proposed a social 
smoke ; and, producing his pouch and tomahawk, he 
quietly offered me a puff. And then we sat exchanging 
puffs from that wild pipe of his, and keeping it regularly 
passing between us. 

If there yet lurked any ice of indifference toward me 
in the pagan's breast, this pleasant, genial smoke we had 
soon thawed it out, and left us cronies. He seemed to 
take to me quite as naturally and unbiddenly as I to him ; 
and when our smoke was over, he pressed his forehead 
against mine, clasped me round the waist, and said that 
henceforth we were married ; meaning, in his country's 
phrase, that we were bosom friends ; he would gladly 
die for me, if need should be. In a countryman this 
sudden flame of friendship would have seemed far too 
premature, a thing to be much distrusted ; but in this 
simple savage those old rules would not apply. 

After supper, and another social chat and smoke, we 
went to our room together. He made me a present of 
his embalmed head ; took out his enormous tobacco 
wallet, and groping under the tobacco, drew out some 
thirty dollars in silver ; then spreading them on the 
table, and mechanically dividing them into two equal 
portions, pushed one of them toward me, and said it was 
mine. I was going to remonstrate ; but he silenced me 
by pouring them into my trowsers' pockets. I let them 
stay. He then went about his evening prayers, took 
out his idol, and removed the paper fire-board. By 


certain signs and symptoms, I thought he seemed anxious 
for me to join him ; but well knowing what was to follow, 
I deliberated a moment whether, in case he invited me, 
I would comply or otherwise. 

I was a good Christian ; born and bred in the bosom 
of the infallible Presbyterian Church. How then could 
I unite with this wild idolater in worshipping his piece of 
wood ? But what is worship ? thought I. Do you 
suppose now, Ishmael, that the magnanimous God of 
heaven and earth pagans and all included can possibly 
be jealous of an insignificant bit of black wood ? Im- 
possible ! But what is worship ? to do the will of 
God ? that is worship. And what is the will of God ? 
to do to my fellow-man what I would have my fellow-man 
to do to me that is the will of God. Now, Queequeg is 
my fellow- man. And what do I wish that this Queequeg 
would do to me ? Why, unite with me in my particular 
Presbyterian form of worship. Consequently, I must 
then unite with him in his ; ergo, I must turn idolater. 
So I kindled the shavings ; helped prop up the innocent 
little idol ; offered him burnt biscuit with Queequeg ; 
salaamed before him twice or thrice ; kissed his nose ; 
and that done, we undressed and went to bed, at peace 
with our own consciences and all the world. But we 
did not go to sleep without some little chat. 

How it is I know not ; but there is no place like a bed 
for confidential disclosures between friends. Man and 
wife, they say, there open the very bottom of their souls 
to each other ; and some old couples often lie and chat 
over old times till nearly morning. Thus, then, in our 
hearts' honeymoon, lay I and Queequeg a cosy, loving 



WE had lain thus in bed, chatting and napping at short 
intervals, and Queequeg now and then affectionately 
throwing his brown tattooed legs over mine, and then 
drawing them back ; so entirely sociable and free and easy 
were we ; when, at last, by reason of our confabulations, 
what little nappishness remained in us altogether departed, 
and we felt like getting up again, though day-break was 
yet some way down the future. 

Yes, we became very wakeful ; so much so that our 
recumbent position began to grow wearisome, and by 
little and little we found ourselves sitting up ; the clothes 
well tucked around us, leaning against the head-board 
with our four knees drawn up close together, and our two 
noses bending over them, as if our knee-pans were warm- 
ing-pans. We felt very nice and snug, the more so since 
it was so chilly out of doors ; indeed out of bed-clothes 
too, seeing that there was no fire in the room. The more 
so, I say, because truly to enjoy bodily warmth, some 
small part of you must be cold, for there is no quality 
in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast. 
Nothing exists in itself. If you flatter yourself that you 
are all over comfortable, and have been so a long time, 
then you cannot be said to be comfortable any more. 
But if, like Queequeg and me in the bed, the tip of your 
nose or the crown of your head be slightly chilled, why 
then, indeed, in the general consciousness you feel most 
delightfully and unmistakably warm. For this reason 

VOL. i. E 


a sleeping apartment should never be furnished with a 
fire, which is one of the luxurious discomforts of the rich. 
For the height of this sort of deliciousness is to have 
nothing but the blanket between you and your snugness 
and the cold of the outer air. Then there you lie 
like the one warm spark in the heart of an arctic 

We had been sitting in this crouching manner for some 
time, when all at once I thought I would open my eyes ; 
for when between sheets, whether by day or by night, 
and whether asleep or awake, I have a way of always 
keeping my eyes shut, in order the more to concentrate 
the snugness of being in bed. Because no man can ever 
feel his own identity aright except his eyes be closed ; as 
if darkness were indeed the proper element of our essences, 
though light be more congenial to our clayey part. Upon 
opening my eyes then, and coming out of my own pleasant 
and self-created darkness into the imposed and coarse 
outer gloom of the unilluminated twelve-o'clock-at-night, 
I experienced a disagreeable revulsion. Nor did I at all 
object to the hint from Queequeg that perhaps it were best 
to strike a light, seeing that we were so wide awake ; and 
besides he felt a strong desire to have a few quiet puffs 
from his tomahawk. Be it said, that though I had felt 
such a strong repugnance to his smoking in the bed the 
night before, yet see how elastic our stiff prejudices grow 
when love once comes to bend them. For now I liked 
nothing better than to have Queequeg smoking by me, 
even in bed, because he seemed to be full of such serene 
household joy then. I no more felt unduly concerned 
for the landlord's policy of insurance. I was only alive 
to the condensed confidential comfortableness of sharing 
a pipe and a blanket with a real friend. With our shaggy 
jackets drawn about our shoulders, we now passed the 
tomahawk from one to the other, till slowly there grew 


over us a blue hanging tester of smoke, illuminated by 
the flame of the new-lit lamp. 

Whether it was that this undulating tester rolled the 
savage away to far distant scenes, I know not, but he now 
spoke of his native island ; and, eager to hear his history, 
I begged him to go on and tell it. He gladly complied. 
Though at the time I but ill comprehended not a few of 
his words, yet subsequent disclosures, when I had become 
more familiar with his broken phraseology, now enable 
me to present the whole story such as it may prove in 
the mere skeleton I give. 



QUEEQUEG was a native of Rokovoko, an island far away 
to the west and south. It is not down in any map ; true 
places never are. 

When a new-hatched savage running wild about his 
native woodlands in a grass clout, followed by the nib- 
bling goats, as if he were a green sapling ; even then, in 
Queequeg's ambitious soul, lurked a strong desire to see 
something more of Christendom than a specimen whaler 
or two. His father was a High Chief, a King ; his uncle 
a High Priest ; and on the maternal side he boasted aunts 
who were the wives of unconquerable warriors. There 
was excellent blood in his veins royal stuff ; though 
sadly vitiated, I fear, by the cannibal propensity he 
nourished in his untutored youth. 

A Sag Harbour ship visited his father's bay, and Quee- 
queg sought a passage to Christian lands. But the ship, 
having her full complement of seamen, spurned his suit ; 
and not all the King his father's influence could prevail. 
But Queequeg vowed a vow. Alone in his canoe, he 
paddled off to a distant strait, which he knew the ship 
must pass through when she quitted the island. On one 
side was a coral reef ; on the other a low tongue of land, 
covered with mangrove thickets that grew out into the 
water. Hiding his canoe, still afloat, among these thickets, 
with its prow seaward, he sat down in the stern, paddle 
low in hand ; and when the ship was gliding by, like a 
flash he darted out ; gained her side ; with one backward 



dash of his foot capsized and sank his canoe ; climbed 
up the chains ; and throwing himself at full length upon 
the deck, grappled a ring-bolt there, and swore not to let 
it go, though hacked in pieces. 

In vain the captain threatened to throw him overboard ; 
suspended a cutlass over his naked wrists ; Queequeg was 
the son of a King, and Queequeg budged not. Struck 
by his desperate dauntlessness, and his wild desire to visit 
Christendom, the captain at last relented, and told him 
he might make himself at home. But this fine young 
savage this sea Prince of Wales never saw the captain's 
cabin. They put him down among the sailors, and made 
a whaleman of him. But like Czar Peter content to toil 
in the shipyards of foreign cities, Queequeg disdained no 
seeming ignominy, if thereby he might happily gain the 
power of enlightening his untutored countrymen. For at 
bottom so he told me he was actuated by a profound 
desire to learn among the Christians, the arts whereby 
to make his people still happier than they were ; and more 
than that, still better than they were. But, alas ! the 
\ practices of whalemen soon convinced him that even 
j Christians could be both miserable and wicked ; infinitely 
more so, than all his father's heathens. Arrived at last 
in old Sag Harbour ; and seeing what the sailors did 
there ; and then going on to Nantucket, and seeing how 
they spent their wages in that place also, poor Queequeg 
gave it up for lost. Thought he, it 5 s a wicked world 
in all meridians ; 1 11 die a pagan. 

And thus an old idolater at heart, he yet lived among 
these Christians, wore their clothes, and tried to talk their 
gibberish. Hence the queer ways about him, though 
now some time from home. 

By hints, I asked him whether he did not propose going 
back, and having a coronation ; since he might now 
consider his father dead and gone, he being very old and 


feeble at the last accounts. He answered no, not yet ; 
and added that he was fearful Christianity, or rather 
Christians, had unfitted him for ascending the pure and 
undefiled throne of thirty pagan kings before him. But 
by and by, he said, he would return, as soon as he felt 
himself baptized again. For the nonce, however, he 
proposed to sail about, and sow his wild oats in all four 
oceans. They had made a harpooneer of him, and that 
barbed iron was in lieu of a sceptre now. 

I asked him what might be his immediate purpose, 
touching his future movements. He answered, to go to 
sea again, in his old vocation. Upon this, I told him that 
whaling was my own design, and informed him of my 
intention to sail out of Nantucket, as being the most 
promising port for an adventurous whaleman to embark 
from. He at once resolved to accompany me to that 
island, ship aboard the same vessel, get into the same 
watch, the same boat, the same mess with me, in short 
to share my every hap ; with both my hands in his, boldly 
dip into the Potluck of both worlds. To all this I joy- 
ously assented ; for besides the affection I now felt for 
Queequeg, he was an experienced harpooneer, and as such, 
could not fail to be of great usefulness to one who, like me, 
was wholly ignorant of the mysteries of whaling, though 
well acquainted with the sea as known to merchant 

His story being ended with his pipe's last dying puff, 
Queequeg embraced me, pressed his forehead against 
mine, and blowing out the light, we rolled over from each 
other, this way and that, and very soon were sleeping. 



NEXT morning, Monday, after disposing of the embalmed 
head to a barber, for a block, I settled my own and com- 
rade's bill ; using, however, my comrade's money. The 
grinning landlord, as well as the boarders, seemed amaz- 
ingly tickled at the sudden friendship which had sprung 
up between me and Queequeg especially as Peter Coffin's 
cock-and-bull stories about him had previously so much 
alarmed me concerning the very person whom I now 
companied with. 

We borrowed a wheelbarrow, and embarking our 
things, including my own poor carpet-bag, and Quee- 
queg 's canvas sack and hammock, away we went down to 
the Moss, the little Nantucket packet schooner moored 
at the wharf. As we were going along the people stared ; 
not at Queequeg so much for they were used to seeing 
cannibals like him in their streets, but at seeing him 
and me upon such confidential terms. But we heeded 
them not, going along wheeling the barrow by turns, 
and Queequeg now and then stopping to adjust the sheath 
on his harpoon barbs. I asked him why he carried such 
a troublesome thing with him ashore, and whether all 
whaling-ships did not find their own harpoons. To this, 
in substance, he replied, that though what I hinted was 
true enough, yet he had a particular affection for his own 
harpoon, because it was of assured stuff, well tried in 
many a mortal combat, and deeply intimate with the 
hearts of whales. In short, like many inland reapers and 



mowers, who go into the farmer's meadows armed with 
their own scythes though in no wise obliged to furnish 
them even so, Queequeg, for his own private reasons, 
preferred his own harpoon. 

Shifting the barrow from my hand to his, he told me 
a funny story about the first wheelbarrow he had ever 
seen. It was in Sag Harbour. The owners of his ship, 
it seems, had lent him one, in which to carry his heavy 
chest to his boarding-house. Not to seem ignorant about 
the thing though in truth he was entirely so, concerning 
the precise way in which to manage the barrow Quee- 
queg puts his chest upon it ; lashes it fast ; and then 
shoulders the barrow and marches up the wharf. ' Why/ 
said I, ' Queequeg, you might have known better than 
that, one would think. Didn't the people laugh ? ' 

Upon this, he told me another story. The people 
of his island of Rokovoko, it seems, at their wedding 
feasts express the fragrant water of young cocoa-nuts into 
a large stained calabash like a punch -bowl ; and this 
punch -bowl always forms the great central ornament on 
the braided mat where the feast is held. Now a certain 
grand merchant ship once touched at Rokovoko, and its 
commander from all accounts a very stately punctilious 
gentleman, at least for a sea-captain this commander 
was invited to the wedding feast of Queequeg 's sister, a 
pretty young princess just turned of ten. Well ; when all 
the wedding guests were assembled at the bride's bamboo 
cottage, this captain marches in, and being assigned the 
post of honour, placed himself over against the punch- 
bowl, and between the High Priest and his majesty the 
King, Queequeg 's father. Grace being said, for those 
people have their grace as well as we though Queequeg 
told me that unlike us, who at such times look downward 
to our platters, they, on the contrary, copying the ducks, 
glance upward to the great Giver of all feasts Grace, 


I say, being said, the High Priest opens the banquet by 
the immemorial ceremony of the island ; that is, dipping 
his consecrated and consecrating fingers into the bowl 
before the blessed - beverage circulates. Seeing himself 
placed next the Priest, and noting the ceremony, and 
thinking himself being captain of a ship as having 
plain precedence over a mere island King, especially in 
the King's own house the captain coolly proceeds to 
wash his hands in the punch-bowl ; taking it, I suppose, 
for a huge finger-glass. ' Now/ said Queequeg, ' what 
you tink now ? Didn't our people laugh ? ' 

At last, passage paid, and luggage safe, we stood on 
board the schooner. Hoisting sail, it glided down the 
Acushnet river. On one side, New Bedford rose in 
terraces of streets, their ice -covered trees all glittering 
in the clear, cold air. Huge hills and mountains of casks 
on casks were piled upon her wharves, and side by side 
the world-wandering whale-ships lay silent and safely 
moored at last ; while from others came a sound of 
carpenters and coopers, with blended noises of fires and 
forges to melt the pitch, all betokening that new cruises 
were on the start ; that one most perilous and long 
voyage ended, only begins a second ; and a second ended, 
only begins a third, and so on, forever and for aye. 
Such is the endlessness, yea, the intolerableness of all 
earthly effort. 

Gaining the more open water, the bracing breeze 
waxed fresh ; the little Moss tossed the quick foam from 
her bows, as a young colt his snortings. How I snuffed 
that Tartar air ! how I spurned that turnpike earth ! 
that common highway all over dented with the marks 
of slavish heels and hoofs ; and turned me to admire the 
magnanimity of the sea which will permit no records. 

At the same foam-fountain, Queequeg seemed to drink 
and reel with me. His dusky nostrils swelled apart ; he 


showed his filed and pointed teeth. On, on we flew ; and 
our offing gained, the Moss did homage to the blast ; 
ducked and dived her brows as a slave before the Sultan. 
Sideways leaning, we sideways darted ; every rope-yarn 
tingling like a wire ; the two tall masts buckling like 
Indian canes in land tornadoes. So full of this reeling 
scene were we, as we stood by the plunging bowsprit, 
that for some time we did not notice the jeering glances 
of the passengers, a lubber-like assembly, who marvelled 
that two fellow-beings should be so companionable ; as 
though a white man were anything more dignified than 
a whitewashed negro. But there were some boobies 
and bumpkins there, who, by their intense greenness, 
must have come from the heart and centre of all verdure. 
Queequeg caught one of these young saplings mimicking 
him behind his back. I thought the bumpkin's hour of 
doom was come. Dropping his harpoon, the brawny 
savage caught him in his arms, and by an almost miracu- 
lous dexterity and strength, sent him high up bodily into 
the air ; then slightly tapping his stern in mid-somerset, 
the fellow landed with bursting lungs upon his feet, while 
Queequeg, turning his back upon him, lighted his toma- 
hawk-pipe and passed it to me for a puff. 

' Capting ! capting ! ' yelled the bumpkin, running 
toward that officer ; ' Capting, capting, here 's the 

' Halloa, you sir/ cried the captain, a gaunt rib of the 
sea, stalking up to Queequeg, ' what in thunder do you 
mean by that ? Don't you know you might have killed 
that chap ? ' 

' What him say ? ' said Queequeg, as he mildly turned 
to me. 

' He say,' said I, ' that you came near kill-e that man 
there,' pointing to the still shivering greenhorn. 

' Kill-e/ cried Queequeg, twisting his tattooed face 


into an unearthly expression of disdain, ' ah ! him bevy 
small-e fish-e ; Queequeg no-kill-e so small-e fish-e ; 
Queequeg Idll-e big whale ! ' 

' Look you/ roared the captain, ' I '11 kill-e you, you 
cannibal, if you try any more of your tricks aboard here ; 
so mind your eye.' 

But it so happened just then, that it was high time for 
the captain to mind his own eye. The prodigious strain 
upon the mainsail had parted the weather-sheet, and the 
tremendous boom was now flying from side to side, com- 
pletely sweeping the entire after part of the deck. The 
poor fellow whom Queequeg had handled so roughly, 
was swept overboard ; all hands were in a panic ; and to 
attempt snatching at the boom to stay it, seemed madness. 
It flew from right to left, and back again, almost in one 
ticking of a watch, and every instant seemed on the point 
of snapping into splinters. Nothing was done, and noth- 
ing seemed capable of being done ; those on deck rushed 
toward the bows, and stood eyeing the boom as if it were 
the lower jaw of an exasperated whale. In the midst of 
this consternation, Queequeg dropped deftly to his knees, 
and crawling under the path of the boom, whipped hold 
of a rope, secured one end to the bulwarks, and then 
flinging the other like a lasso, caught it round the boom 
as it swept over his head, and at the next jerk, the spar 
was that way trapped, and all was safe. The schooner 
was run into the wind, and while the hands were clearing 
away the stern boat, Queequeg, stripped to the waist, 
darted from the side with a long living arc of a leap. For 
three minutes or more he was seen swimming like a dog, 
throwing his long arms straight out before him, and by 
turns revealing his brawny shoulders through the freezing 
foam. I looked at the grand and glorious fellow, but saw 
no one to be saved. The greenhorn had gone down. 
Shooting himself perpendicularly from the water, Quee- 


queg now took an instant's glance around him, and seem- 
ing to see just how matters were, dived down and dis- 
appeared. A few minutes more, and he rose again, one 
arm still striking out, and with the other dragging a life- 
less form. The boat soon picked them up. The poor 
bumpkin was restored. All hands voted Queequeg a 
noble trump ; the captain begged his pardon. From 
that hour I clove to Queequeg like a barnacle ; yea, till 
poor Queequeg took his last long dive. 

Was there ever such unconsciousness ? He did not 
seem to think that he at all deserved a medal from the 
Humane and Magnanimous Societies. He only asked for 
water fresh water something to wipe the brine off ; 
that done, he put on dry clothes, lighted his pipe, and 
leaning against the bulwarks, and mildly eyeing those 
around him, seemed to be saying to himself ' It 's a 
mutual, joint-stock world, in all meridians. We canni- 
bals must help these Christians. 5 



NOTHING more happened on the passage worthy the 
mentioning ; so, after a fine run, we safely arrived in 

Nantucket ! Take out your map and look at it. 
See what a real corner of the world it occupies ; how it 
stands there, away off shore, more lonely than the Eddy- 
stone lighthouse. Look at it a mere hillock, and elbow 
of sand ; all beach, without a background. There is 
more sand there than you would use in twenty years as a 
substitute for blotting-paper. Some gamesome wights 
will tell you that they have to plant weeds there, they 
don't grow naturally ; that they import Canada thistles ; 
that they have to send beyond seas for a spile to stop a 
leak in an oil-cask ; that pieces of wood in Nantucket 
are carried about like bits of the true cross in Rome ; 
that people there plant toadstools before their houses, 
to get under the shade in summer time ; that one blade 
of grass makes an oasis, three blades in a day's walk a 
prairie ; that they wear quicksand shoes, something like 
Laplander snow-shoes ; that they are so shut up, belted 
about, every way enclosed, surrounded, and made an 
utter island of by the ocean, that to their very chairs and 
tables small clams will sometimes be found adhering, as 
to the backs of sea-turtles. But these extravaganzas 
only show that Nantucket is no Illinois. 

Look now at the wondrous traditional story of how this 
island was settled by the red men. Thus goes the legend. 



In olden times an eagle swooped down upon the New 
England coast, and carried off an infant Indian in his 
talons. With loud lament the parents saw their child 
borne out of sight over the wide waters. They resolved 
to follow in the same direction. Setting out in their 
canoes, after a perilous passage they discovered the 
island, and there they found an empty ivory casket, 
the poor little Indian's skeleton. 

What wonder, then, that these Nantucketers, born on 
a beach, should take to the sea for a livelihood ! They 
first caught crabs and quohogs in the sand ; grown 
bolder, they waded out with nets for mackerel ; more 
experienced, they pushed off in boats and captured cod ; 
and at last, launching a navy of great ships on the sea, 
explored this watery world ; put an incessant belt of cir- 
cumnavigations round it ; peeped in at Behring Straits ; 
and in all seasons and all oceans declared everlasting war 
with the mightiest animated mass that has survived the 
Flood ; most monstrous and most mountainous ! That 
Himalayan, salt-sea mastodon, clothed with such por- 
tentousness of unconscious power, that his very panics 
are more to be dreaded than his most fearless and malicious 
assaults ! 

And thus have these naked Nantucketers, these sea- 
hermits, issuing from their ant-hill in the sea, overrun 
and conquered the watery world like so many Alexanders ; 
parcelling out among them the Atlantic, Pacific, and 
Indian oceans, as the three pirate powers did Poland. Let 
America add Mexico to Texas, and pile Cuba upon Canada ; 
let the English over swarm all India, and hang out their 
blazing banner from the sun; two-thirds of this terr- 
aqueous globe are the Nantucketer's. For the sea is his ; 
he owns it, as Emperors own empires ; other seamen 
having but a right of way through it. Merchant ships 
are but extension bridges ; armed ones but floating forts ; 


even pirates and privateers, though following the sea as 
highwaymen the road, they but plunder other ships, other 
fragments of the land like themselves, without seeking to 
draw their living from the bottomless deep itself. The 
Nantucketer, he alone resides and riots on the sea ; he 
alone, in Bible language, goes down to it in ships ; to and 
fro ploughing it as his own special plantation. There is 
his home ; there lies his business, which a Noah's flood 
would not interrupt, though it overwhelmed all the 
millions in China. He lives on the sea, as prairie cocks 
in the prairie ; he hides among the waves, he climbs 
them as chamois hunters climb the Alps. For years he 
knows not the land ; so that when he comes to it at last, 
it smells like another world, more strangely than the 
moon would to an Earthsman. With the landless gull, 
that at sunset folds her wings and is rocked to sleep 
between billows ; so, at nightfall, the Nantucketer, out 
of sight of land, furls his sails, and lays him to his rest, 
while under his very pillow rush herds of walruses and 



IT was quite late in the evening when the little Moss came 
snugly to anchor, and Queequeg and I went ashore ; so 
we could attend to no business that day, at least none 
but a supper and a bed. The landlord of the Spouter- 
Inn had recommended us to his cousin Hosea Hussey 
of the Try Pots, whom he asserted to be the proprietor 
of one of the best kept hotels in all Nantucket, and more- 
over he had assured us that Cousin Hosea, as he called 
him, was famous for his chowders. In short, he plainly 
hinted that we could not possibly do better than try pot- 
luck at the Try Pots. But the directions he had given 
us about keeping a yellow warehouse on our starboard 
hand till we opened a white church to the larboard, and 
then keeping that on the larboard hand till we made a 
corner three points to the starboard, and that done, 
then ask the first man we met where the place was : these 
crooked directions of his very much puzzled us at first, 
especially as, at the outset, Queequeg insisted that the 
yellow warehouse our first point of departure must be 
left on the larboard hand, whereas I had understood 
Peter Coffin to say it was on the starboard. However, 
by dint of beating about a little in the dark, and now and 
then knocking up a peaceable inhabitant to inquire the 
way, we at last came to something which there was no 

Two enormous wooden pots painted black, and sus- 
pended by asses' ears, swung from the cross-trees of an 



old topmast, planted in front of an old doorway. The 
horns of the cross-trees were sawed off on the other side, 
so that this old topmast looked not a little like a gallows. 
Perhaps I was over-sensitive to such impressions at the 
time, but I could not help staring at this gallows with a 
vague misgiving. A sort of crick was in my neck as I 
gazed up to the two remaining horns ; yes, two of them, 
one for Queequeg, and one for me. It 's ominous, thinks 
I. A Coffin my Innkeeper upon landing in my first 
whaling port ; tombstones staring at me in the whale- 
man's chapel ; and here a gallows ! and a pair of pro- 
digious black pots too ! Are these last throwing out 
oblique hints touching Tophet ? 

I was called from these reflections by the sight of a 
freckled woman with yellow hair and a yellow gown, 
standing in the porch of the inn, under a dull red lamp 
swinging there, that looked much like an injured eye, 
and carrying on a brisk scolding with a man in a purple 
woollen shirt. 

1 Get along with ye, 5 said she to the man, ' or I '11 be 
combing ye ! ' 

4 Come on, Queequeg,' said I, 'all right. There's 
Mrs. Hussey.' 

And so it turned out ; Mr. Hosea Hussey being from 
home, but leaving Mrs. Hussey entirely competent to 
attend to all his affairs. Upon making known our de- 
sires for a supper and a bed, Mrs. Hussey, postponing 
further scolding for the present, ushered us into a little 
room, and seating us at a table spread with the relics 
of a recently concluded repast, turned round to us and 
said, ' Clam or cod ? ' 

' What 's that about cods, ma'am ? ' said I, with much 

4 Clam or cod ? ' she repeated. 

' A clam for supper ? a cold clam ; is that what you 

VOL. I. F 


mean, Mrs. Hussey ? ' says I ; ' but that 's a rather cold 
and clammy reception in the winter time, ain't it, Mrs. 
Hussey ? ' 

But being in a great hurry to resume scolding the 
man in the purple shirt, who was waiting for it in 
the entry, and seeming to hear nothing but the word 
' clam, 5 Mrs. Hussey hurried toward an open door 
leading to the kitchen, and bawling out ' clam for two, ' 

' Queequeg,' said I, ' do you think that we can make out 
a supper for us both on one clam ? ' 

However, a warm savoury steam from the kitchen 
served to belie the apparently cheerless prospect before 
us. But when that smoking chowder came in, the 
mystery was delightfully explained. Oh, sweet friends ! 
hearken to me. It was made of small juicy clams, 
scarcely bigger than hazel nuts, mixed with pounded ship- 
biscuit, and salted pork cut up into little flakes ; the 
whole enriched with butter, and plentifully seasoned with 
pepper and salt. Our appetites being sharpened by the 
frosty voyage, and in particular, Queequeg seeing his 
favourite fishing food before him, and the chowder being 
surpassingly excellent, we dispatched it with great 
expedition : when leaning back a moment and bethink- 
ing me of Mrs. Hussey's clam and cod announcement, 
I thought I would try a little experiment. Stepping 
to the kitchen door, I uttered the word ' cod ' with great 
emphasis, and resumed my seat. In a few moments the 
savoury steam came forth again, but with a different 
flavour, and in good time a fine cod-chowder was placed 
before us. 

We resumed business ; and while plying our spoons 
in the bowl, thinks I to myself, I wonder now if this here 
has any effect on the head ? What 's that stultifying 
saying about chowder-headed people ? ' But look, 


Queequeg, ain't that a live eel in your bowl ? Where 's 
your harpoon ? ' 

Fishiest of all fishy places was the Try Pots; which well 
deserved its name ; for the pots there were always boiling 
chowders. Chowder for breakfast, and chowder for 
dinner, and chowder for supper, till you began to look for 
fish-bones coming through your clothes. The area before 
the house was paved with clam-shells. Mrs. Hussey wore 
a polished necklace of codfish vertebra ; and Hosea 
Hussey had his account-books bound in superior old 
shark-skin. There was a fishy flavour to the milk, too, 
which I could not at all account for, till one morning 
happening to take a stroll along the beach among some 
fishermen's boats, I saw Hosea 's brindled cow feeding 
on fish remnants, and marching along the sand with each 
foot in a cod's decapitated head, looking very slipshod, 
I assure ye. 

Supper concluded, we received a lamp, and directions 
from Mrs. Hussey concerning the nearest way to bed ; 
but, as Queequeg was about to precede me up the stairs, 
the lady reached forth her arm, and demanded his har- 
poon ; she allowed no harpoon in her chambers. ' Why 
not ? J said I ; ' every true whaleman sleeps with his 
harpoon but why not ? ' ' Because it 's dangerous, 5 
says she. ' Ever since young Stiggs coming from that 
unfort'nt v'y'ge of his, when he was gone four years and 
a half, with only three barrels of ile, was found dead in 
my first floor back, with his harpoon in his side ; ever 
since then I allow no boarders to take sich dangerous 
weepons in their rooms at night. So, Mr. Queequeg ' 
(for she had learned his name), ' I will just take this 
here iron, and keep it for you till morning. But the 
chowder ; clam or cod to-morrow for breakfast, men ? ' 

' Both,' says I ; ' and let 's have a couple of smoked 
herring by way of variety.' 



IN bed we concocted our plans for the morrow. But to 
my surprise and no small concern, Queequeg now gave 
me to understand, that he had been diligently consulting 
Yojo the name of his black little god and Yojo had 
told him two or three times over, and strongly insisted 
upon it everyway, that instead of our going together 
among the whaling-fleet in harbour, and in concert 
selecting our craft ; instead of this, I say, Yojo earnestly 
enjoined that the selection of the ship should rest wholly 
with me, inasmuch as Yojo purposed befriending us ; and, 
in order to do so, had already pitched upon a vessel, which, 
if left to myself, I, Ishmael, should infallibly light upon, 
for all the world as though it had turned out by chance ; 
and in that vessel I must immediately ship myself, for 
the present irrespective of Queequeg. 

I have forgotten to mention that, in many things, 
Queequeg placed great confidence in the excellence of 
Yojo's judgment and surprising forecast of things ; and 
cherished Yojo with considerable esteem, as a rather 
good sort of god, who perhaps meant well enough upon 
the whole, but in all cases did not succeed in his benevolent 

Now, this plan of Queequeg's, or rather Yojo's, touch- 
ing the selection of our craft ; I did not like that plan at 
all. I had not a little relied upon Queequeg's sagacity 
to point out the whaler best fitted to carry us and our 
fortunes securely. But as all my remonstrances pro- 



duced no effect upon Queequeg, I was obliged to acquiesce; 
and accordingly prepared to set about this business with 
a determined rushing sort of energy and vigour, that 
should quickly settle that trifling little affair. Next 
morning early, leaving Queequeg shut up with Yojo in 
our little bedroom for it seemed that it was some sort 
of Lent or Ramadan, or day of fasting, humiliation, and 
prayer with Queequeg and Yojo that day ; how it was 
I never could find out, for, though I applied myself to 
it several times, I never could master his liturgies and 
XXXIX Articles leaving Queequeg, then, fasting on 
his tomahawk-pipe, and Yojo warming himself at his 
sacrificial fire of shavings, I sallied out among the shipping. 
After much prolonged sauntering and many random 
inquiries, I learnt that there were three ships up for 
three-years' voyages the Devil-Dam, the Tit-bit, and 
the Pequod. Devil-Dam, I do not know the origin of ; 
Tit-bit is obvious ; Pequod, you will no doubt remember, 
was the name of a celebrated tribe of Massachusetts 
Indians, now extinct as the ancient Medes. I peered and 
pryed about the Devil-Dam ; from her, hopped over to 
the Tit-bit ; and, finally, going on board the Pequod, 
looked around her for a moment, and then decided that 
this was the very ship for us. 

You may have seen many a quaint craft in your day, 
for aught I know ; square-toed luggers ; mountainous 
Japanese junks ; butter-box galliots, and what not ; but 
take my word for it, you never saw such a rare old craft 
as this same rare old Pequod. She was a ship of the old 
school, rather small if anything ; with an old-fashioned 
claw-footed look about her. Long seasoned and weather- 
stained in the typhoons and calms of all four oceans, her 
old hull's complexion was darkened like a French grena- 
dier's, who has alike fought in Egypt and Siberia. Her 
venerable bows looked bearded. Her masts cut some- 


where on the coast of Japan, where her original ones were 
lost overboard in a gale her masts stood stiffly up like 
the spines of the three old kings of Cologne. Her ancient 
decks were worn and wrinkled, like the pilgrim-worshipped 
flag-stone in Canterbury Cathedral where Becket bled. 
But to all these her old antiquities were added new and 
marvellous features, pertaining to the wild business that 
for more than half a century she had followed. Old 
Captain Peleg, many years her chief mate, before he com- 
manded another vessel of his own, and now a retired 
seaman, and one of the principal owners of the Pequod, 
this old Peleg, during the term of his chief mateship, had 
built upon her original grotesqueness, and inlaid it, all 
over, with a quaintness both of material and device, un- 
matched by anything except it be Thorkill-Hake's carved 
buckler or bedstead. She was apparelled like any bar- 
baric Ethiopian emperor, his neck heavy with pendants 
of polished ivory. She was a thing of trophies. A canni- 
bal of a craft, tricking herself forth in the chased bones 
of her enemies. All round, her unpanelled, open bul- 
warks were garnished like one continuous jaw, with the 
long sharp teeth of the sperm whale, inserted there for 
pins, to fasten her old hempen thews and tendons to. 
Those thews ran not through base blocks of land-wood, 
but deftly travelled over sheaves of sea -ivory. Scorning 
a turnstile wheel at her reverend helm, she sported there 
a tiller ; and that tiller was in one mass, curiously carved 
from the long narrow lower jaw of her hereditary foe. 
The helmsman who steered by that tiller in a tempest, 
felt like the Tartar, when he holds back his fiery steed 
by clutching its jaw. A noble craft, but somehow a most 
melancholy ! All noble things are touched with that. 

Now when I looked about the quarter-deck, for some 
one having authority, in order to propose myself as a 
candidate for the voyage, at first I saw nobody ; but I 


could not well overlook a strange sort of tent, or rather 
wigwam, pitched a little behind the mainmast. It 
seemed only a temporary erection used in port. It was 
of a conical shape, some ten feet high ; consisting of the 
long, huge slabs of limber black bone taken from the 
middle and highest part of the jaws of the right whale. 
Planted with their broad ends on the deck, a circle of these 
slabs laced together, mutually sloped toward each other, 
and at the apex united in a tufted point, where the loose 
hairy fibres waved to and fro like the top-knot on some 
old Pottowottamie sachem's head. A triangular opening 
faced toward the bows of the ship, so that the insider 
commanded a complete view forward. 

And half concealed in this queer tenement, I at length 
found one who by his aspect seemed to have authority ; 
and who, it being noon, and the ship's work suspended, 
was now enjoying respite from the burden of command. 
He was seated on an old-fashioned oaken chair, wriggling 
all over with curious carving ; and the bottom of which 
was formed of a stout interlacing of the same elastic stuff 
of which the wigwam was constructed. 

There was nothing so very particular, perhaps, about 
the appearance of the elderly man I saw ; he was brown 
and brawny, like most old seamen, and heavily rolled up 
in blue pilot-cloth, cut in the Quaker style ; only there 
was a fine and almost microscopic network of the minutest 
wrinkles interlacing round his eyes, which must have 
arisen from his continual sailings in many hard gales, and 
always looking to windward ; for this causes the muscles 
about the eyes to become pursed together. Such eye- 
wrinkles are very effectual in a scowl. 

' Is this the captain of the Pequod ? ' said I, advancing 
to the door of the tent. 

' Supposing it be the captain of the Pequod, what 
dost thou want of him ? ' he demanded. 


' I was thinking of shipping.' 

' Thou wast, wast thou ? I see thou art no Nan- 
tucketer ever been in a stove boat ? ' 

' No, sir, I never have.' 

' Dost know nothing at all about whaling, I dare say 
eh? ' 

' Nothing, sir ; but I have no doubt I shall soon learn. 
I 've been several voyages in the merchant service, and 
I think that 

' Marchant service be damned. Talk not that lingo 
to me. Dost see that leg ? I '11 take that leg away from 
thy stern, if ever thou talkest of the marchant service to 
me again. Marchant service indeed ! I suppose now 
ye feel considerable proud of having served in those 
marchant ships. But flukes ! man, what makes thee 
want to go a-whaling, eh ? it looks a little suspicious, 
don't it, eh ? Hast not been a pirate, hast thou ? 
Didst not rob thy last captain, didst thou ? Dost not 
think of murdering the officers when thou gettest to sea ? ' 

I protested my innocence of these things. I saw that 
under the mask of these half-humorous innuendoes, this 
old seaman, as an insulated Quakerish Nantucketer, was 
full of his insular prejudices, and rather distrustful of all 
aliens, unless they hailed from Cape Cod or the Vineyard. 

' But what takes thee a-whaling ? I want to know that 
before I think of shipping ye.' 

4 Well, sir, I want to see what whaling is. I want to 
see the world/ 

' Want to see what whaling is, eh ? Have ye clapped 
eye on Captain Ahab ? ' 

' Who is Captain Ahab, sir ? ' 

4 Ay, ay, I thought so. Captain Ahab is the captain 
of this ship.' 

' I am mistaken then. I thought I was speaking to 
the captain himself.' 


' Thou art speaking to Captain Peleg that 's who ye 
are speaking to, young man. It belongs to me and 
Captain Bildad to see the Pequod fitted out for the voyage, 
and supplied with all her needs, including crew. We are 
part owners and agents. But as I was going to say, if 
thou wantest to know what whaling is, as thou tellest ye 
do, I can put ye in a way of finding it out before ye bind 
yourself to it, past backing out. Clap eye on Captain 
Ahab, young man, and thou wilt finxl that he has only 
one leg.' 

' What do you mean, sir ? Was the other one lost by 
a whale ? ' 

' Lost by a whale ! Young man, come nearer to me : 
it was devoured, chewed up, crunched by the mon- 
strousest parmacetty that ever chipped a boat ! ah, ah ! ' 

I was a little alarmed by his energy, perhaps also a little 
touched at the hearty grief in his concluding exclamation, 
but said as calmly as I could, ' What you say is no doubt 
true enough, sir ; but how could I know there was any 
peculiar ferocity in that particular whale, though indeed 
I might have inferred as much from the simple fact of 
the accident.' 

' Look ye now, young man, thy lungs are a sort of soft, 
d' ye see ; thou dost not talk shark a bit. Sure, ye 've 
been to sea before now ; sure of that ? ' 

' Sir,' said I, ' I thought I told you that I had been four 
voyages in the merchant ' 

' Hard down out of that ! Mind what I said about the 
marchant service don't aggravate me I won't have it. 
But let us understand each other. I have given thee a 
hint about what whaling is ; do ye yet feel inclined for it ? ' 

4 1 do, sir.' 

' Very good. Now, art thou the man to pitch a 
harpoon down a live whale's throat, and then jump 
after it ? Answer, quick ! ' 


' I am, sir, if it should be positively indispensable to 
do so ; not to be got rid of, that is ; which I don't take 
to be the fact.' 

6 Good again. Now then, thou not only wantest to go 
a -whaling, to find out by experience what whaling is, 
but ye also want to go in order to see the world ? Was 
not that what ye said ? I thought so. Well then, just 
step forward there, and take a peep over the weather-bow, 
and then back to me and tell me what ye see there.' 

For a moment I stood a little puzzled by this curious 
request, not knowing exactly how to take it, whether 
humorously or in earnest. But concentrating all his 
crow's feet into one scowl, Captain Peleg started me on 
the errand. 

Going forward and glancing over the weather -bow, I 
perceived that the ship, swinging to her anchor with the 
flood-tide, was now obliquely pointing toward the open 
ocean. The prospect was unlimited, but exceedingly 
monotonous and forbidding ; not the slightest variety 
that I could see. 

' Well, what 's the report ? ' said Peleg when I came 
back ; ' what did ye see ? ' 

1 Not much,' I replied 'nothing but water ; considerable 
horizon though, and there 's a squall coming up, I think.' 

' Well, what dost thou think then of seeing the world ? 
Do ye wish to go round Cape Horn to see any more of it, 
I eh ? Can't ye see the world where you stand ? ' 

I was a little staggered, but go a-whaling I must, and 
I would ; and the Pequod was as good a ship as any I 

(thought the best and all this I now repeated to Peleg. 
Seeing me so determined, he expressed his willingness to 
ship me. 

' And thou mayest as well sign the papers right off, ' he 
added ' come along with ye.' And so saying, he led 
the way below deck into the cabin. 


Seated on the transom was what seemed to me a most 
uncommon and surprising figure. It turned out to be 
Captain Bildad, who along with Captain Peleg was one 
of the largest owners of the vessel ; the other shares, as 
is sometimes the case in these ports, being held by a 
crowd of old annuitants ; widows, fatherless children, 
and chancery wards ; each owning about the value of a 
timber head, or a foot of plank, or a nail or two in the ship. 
People in Nantucket invest their money in whaling- 
vessels, the same way that you do yours in approved 
state stocks bringing in good interest. 

Now Bildad, like Peleg, and indeed many other Nan- 
tucketers, was a Quaker, the island having been originally 
settled by that sect ; and to this day its inhabitants in 
general retain in an uncommon measure the peculiarities 
of the Quaker, only variously and anomalously modified 
by things altogether alien and heterogeneous. For some 
of these same Quakers are the most sanguinary of all 
sailors and whale -hunters. They are fighting Quakers ; 
they are Quakers with a vengeance. 

So that there are instances among them of men, who, 
named with Scripture names a singularly common 
fashion on the island and in childhood naturally imbib- 
ing the stately dramatic thee and thou of the Quaker 
idiom ; still, from the audacious, daring, and boundless 
adventure of their subsequent lives, strangely blend with 
these unoutgrown peculiarities a thousand bold dashes 
of character, not unworthy a Scandinavian sea-king, or a 
poetical pagan Roman. And when these things unite 
in a man of greatly superior natural force, with a globular 
brain and a ponderous heart ; who has also by the still- 
ness and seclusion of many long night-watches in the 
remotest waters, and beneath constellations never seen 
here at the north, been led to think untraditionally and 
independently ; receiving all nature's sweet or savage 


impressions fresh from her own virgin voluntary and 
confiding breast, and thereby chiefly, but with some help 
from accidental advantages, to learn a bold and nervous 
lofty language that man makes one in a whole nation's 
census a mighty pageant creature, formed for noble 
tragedies. Nor will it at all detract from him, dramatic- 
ally regarded, if either by birth or other circumstances, he 
have what seems a half- wilful over-ruling morbidness at 
the bottom of his nature. For all men tragically great 
are made so through a certain morbidness. Be sure of 
this, young ambition, all mortal greatness is but disease. 
But, as yet we have not to do with such an one, but with 
quite another ; and still a man, who, if indeed peculiar, 
it only results again from another phase of the Quaker, 
modified by individual circumstances. 

Like Captain Peleg, Captain Bildad was a well-to-do, 
retired whaleman. But unlike Captain Peleg who 
cared not a rush for what are called serious things, and 
indeed deemed those self-same serious things the veriest 
of all trifles Captain Bildad had not only been originally 
educated according to the strictest sect of Nantucket 
Quakerism, but all his subsequent ocean life ; and the sight 
of many unclad, lovely island creatures, round the Horn 
all that had not moved this native-born Quaker one 
single jot, had not so much as altered one angle of his vest. 
Still, for all this immutableness, was there some lack of 
common consistency about worthy Captain Bildad. 
Though refusing, from conscientious scruples, to bear 
arms against land invaders, yet himself had illimitably 
invaded the Atlantic and Pacific ; and though a sworn 
foe to human bloodshed, yet had he in his straight -bodied 
coat, spilled tuns upon tuns of leviathan gore. How 
now in the contemplative evening of his days, the pious 
Bildad reconciled these things in the reminiscence, I do 
not know ; but it did not seem to concern him much, 


and very probably he had long since come to the sage and 
sensible conclusion that a Oman's religion is one thing, 
and this practical world quite another. This world pays 
dividends. Rising from a little cabin-boy in short clothes 
of the drabbest drab, to a harpooneer in a broad shad- 
bellied waistcoat ; from that becoming boat-header, 
chief mate, and captain, and finally a shipowner ; Bildad, 
as I hinted before, had concluded his adventurous career 
by wholly retiring from active life at the goodly age of 
sixty, and dedicating his remaining days to the quiet 
receiving of his well-earned income. 

Now Bildad, I am sorry to say, had the reputation of 
being an incorrigible old hunks, and in his sea -going days, 
a bitter, hard taskmaster. They told me in Nantucket, 
though it certainly seems a curious story, that when he 
sailed the old Categut whaleman, his crew, upon arriving 
home, were mostly all carried ashore to the hospital, 
sore exhausted and worn out. For a pious man, especi- v 
ally for a Quaker, he was certainly rather hard-hearted, to \ 
say the least. He never used to swear, though, at his 
men, they said ; but somehow he got an inordinate 
quantity of cruel, unmitigated hard work out of them. 
When Bildad was a chief mate, to have his drab-coloured 
eye intently looking at you, made you feel completely 
nervous, till you could clutch something a hammer or a 
marling-spike and go to work like mad, at something or 
other, never mind what. Indolence and idleness perished 
from before him. His own person was the exact embodi- 
ment of his utilitarian character. On his long, gaunt 
body he carried no spare flesh, no superfluous beard, 
his chin having a soft, economical nap to it, like the worn 
nap of his broad-brimmed hat. 

Such, then, was the person that I saw seated on the 
transom when I followed Captain Peleg down into the 
cabin. The space between the decks was small ; and 


there, bolt-upright, sat old Bildad, who always sat so, 
and never leaned, and this to save his coat-tails. His 
broad-brim was placed beside him ; his legs were stiffly 
crossed ; his drab vesture was buttoned up to his chin ; 
and spectacles on nose, he seemed absorbed in reading 
from a ponderous volume. 

' Bildad,' cried Captain Peleg, ' at it again, Bildad, eh ? 
Ye have been studying those Scriptures, now, for the last 
thirty years, to my certain knowledge. How far ye got, 
Bildad ? ' 

As if long habituated to such profane talk from his old 
shipmate, Bildad, without noticing his present irreverence, 
quietly looked up, and seeing me, glanced again inquiringly 
toward Peleg. 

4 He says he 's our man, Bildad/ said Peleg, ' he wants 
to ship. 5 

' Dost thee ? ' said Bildad, in a hollow tone, and turning 
round to me. 

' I dost/ said I unconsciously, he was so intense a 

' What do ye think of him, Bildad ? ' said Peleg. 

' He '11 do,' said Bildad, eyeing me, and then went on 
spelling away at his book in a mumbling tone quite 

I thought him the queerest old Quaker I ever saw, 
especially as Peleg, his friend and old shipmate, seemed 
such a blusterer. But I said nothing, only looking round 
me sharply. Peleg now threw open a chest, and drawing 
forth the ship's articles, placed pen and ink before him, 
and seated himself at a little table. I began to think 
it was high time to settle with myself at what terms I 
would be willing to engage for the voyage. I was already 
aware that in the whaling business they paid no wages ; 
but all hands, including the captain, received certain 
shares of the profits called lays, and that these lays were 


proportioned to the degree of importance pertaining to 
the respective duties of the ship's company. I was also 
aware that being a green-hand at whaling, my own lay 
would not be very large ; but considering that I was used 
to the sea, could steer a ship, splice a rope, and all that, 
I made no doubt that from all I had heard I should be 
offered at least the 275th lay that is, the 275th part of 
the clear nett proceeds of the voyage, whatever that 
might eventually amount to. And though the 275th 
lay was what they call a rather long lay, yet it was better 
than nothing ; and if we had a lucky voyage, might 
pretty nearly pay for the clothing I would wear out on it, 
not to speak of my three years' beef and board, for which 
I would not have to pay one stiver. 

It might be thought that this was a poor way to 
accumulate a princely fortune and so it was, a very poor 
way indeed. But I am one of those that never take on 
about princely fortunes, and am quite content if the world 
is ready to board and lodge me, while I am putting up at 
this grim sign of the Thunder Cloud. Upon the whole, I 
thought that the 275th lay would be about the fair thing, 
but would not have been surprised had I been offered 
the 200th, considering I was of a broad-shouldered make. 

But one thing, nevertheless, that made me a little 
distrustful about receiving a generous share of the profits 
was this : Ashore, I had heard something of both Captain 
Peleg and his unaccountable old crony Bildad ; how that 
they being the principal proprietors of the Pequod, there- 
fore the other and more inconsiderable and scattered 
owners, left nearly the whole management of the ship's 
affairs to these two. And I did not know but what the 
stingy old Bildad might have a mighty deal to say about 
shipping hands, especially as I now found him on board 
the Pequod, quite at home there in the cabin, and reading 
his Bible as if at his own fireside. Now while Peleg was 


vainly trying to mend a pen with his jack-knife, old Bildad, 
to my no small surprise, considering that he was such an 
interested party in these proceedings ; Bildad never 
heeded us, but went on mumbling to himself out of his 
book, ' Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, 
where moth ' 

' Well, Captain Bildad,' interrupted Peleg, ' what d' ye 
say, what lay shall we give this young man ? ' 

' Thou knowest best,' was the sepulchral reply, ' the 
seven hundred and seventy-seventh wouldn't be too 
much, would it ? " where moth and rust do corrupt, 
but lay " ' 

Lay, indeed, thought I, and such a lay ! the seven 
hundred and seventy-seventh ! Well, old Bildad, you 
are determined that I, for one, shall not lay up many lays 
here below, where moth and rust do corrupt. It was an 
exceedingly long lay that, indeed ; and though from the 
magnitude of the figure it might at first deceive a lands- 
man, yet the slightest consideration will show that though 
seven hundred and seventy -seven is a pretty large num- 
ber, yet, when you come to make a teenth of it, you will 
then see, I say, that the seven hundred and seventy- 
seventh part of a farthing is a good deal less than seven 
hundred and seventy -seven gold doubloons ; and so I 
thought at the time. 

4 Why, blast your eyes, Bildad,' cried Peleg, ' thou dost 
not want to swindle this young man ! he must have more 
than that.' 

' Seven hundred and seventy -seventh,' again said 
Bildad, without lifting his eyes ; and then went on 
mumbling ' for where your treasure is, there will your 
heart be also.' 

' I am going to put him down for the three hundredth,' 
said Peleg, ' do ye hear that, Bildad ? The three hundredth 
lay, I say.' 


Bildad laid down his book, and turning solemnly to- 
ward him said, ' Captain Peleg, thou hast a generous 
heart ; but thou must consider the duty thou owest to 
the other owners of this ship widows and orphans; many 
of them and that if we too abundantly reward the 
labours of this young man, we may be taking the bread 
from those widows and those orphans. The seven 
hundred and seventy -seventh lay, Captain Peleg.' 

' Thou Bildad ! ' roared Peleg, starting up and clattering 
about the cabin. ' Blast ye, Captain Bildad, if I had 
followed thy advice in these matters, I would afore now 
had a conscience to lug about that would be heavy 
enough to founder the largest ship that ever sailed round 
Cape Horn.' 

4 Captain Peleg,' said Bildad steadily, ' thy conscience 
may be drawing ten inches of water, or ten fathoms, I 
can't tell ; but as thou art still an impenitent man, 
Captain Peleg, I greatly fear lest thy conscience be but 
a leaky one ; and will in the end sink thee foundering 
down to the fiery pit, Captain Peleg.' 

' Fiery pit ! fiery pit ! ye insult me, man ; past all 
natural bearing, ye insult me. It 's an all-fired outrage 
to tell any human creature that he 's bound to hell. 
Flukes and flames ! Bildad, say that again to me, and 
start my soul-bolts, but I '11 I '11 yes, I '11 swallow a 
live goat with all his hair and horns on. Out of the cabin, 
ye canting, drab-coloured son of a wooden gun & straight 
wake with ye ! ' 

As he thundered out this he made a rush at Bildad, but 
with a marvellous oblique, sliding celerity, Bildad for 
that time eluded him. 

Alarmed at this terrible outburst between the two 
principal and responsible owners of the ship, and feeling 
half a mind to give up all idea of sailing in a vessel so 
questionably owned and temporarily commanded, I 

VOL. i. G 


stepped aside from the door to give egress to Bildad, who, 
I made no doubt, was all eagerness to vanish from before 
the awakened wrath of Peleg. But to my astonishment, 
he sat down again on the transom very quietly, and seemed 
to have not the slightest intention of withdrawing. He 
seemed quite used to impenitent Peleg and his ways. As 
for Peleg, after letting off his rage as he had, there seemed 
no more left in him, and he, too, sat down like a lamb, 
though he twitched a little as if still nervously agitated. 
' Whew ! ' he whistled at last ' the squall 's gone off to 
leeward, I think. Bildad, thou used to be good at 
sharpening a lance, mend that pen, will ye. My jack- 
knife here needs the grindstone. That 's he ; thank ye, 
Bildad. Now then, my young man, Ishmael 's thy name, 
didn't ye say ? Well then, down ye go here, Ishmael, 
for the three hundredth lay.' 

' Captain Peleg,' said I, ' I have a friend with me who 
wants to ship too shall I bring him down to-morrow ? ' 

' To be sure,' said Peleg. ' Fetch him along, and we '11 
look at him.' 

' What lay does he want ? ' groaned Bildad, glancing 
up from the book in which he had again been burying 

* Oh ! never thee mind about that, Bildad,' said Peleg. 
' Has he ever whaled it any ? ' turning to me. 

' Killed more whales than I can count, Captain Peleg.' 

' Well, bring him along then.' 

And, after signing the papers, off I went ; nothing 
doubting but that I had done a good morning's work, 
and that the Pequod was the identical ship that Yojo 
had provided to carry Queequeg and me round the Cape. 

But I had not proceeded far, when I began to bethink 
me that the captain with whom I was to sail yet remained 
unseen by me ; though, indeed, in many cases, a whale- 
ship will be completely fitted out, and receive all her crew 


on board, ere the captain makes himself visible by arriv- 
ing to take command ; for sometimes these voyages are 
so prolonged, and the shore intervals at home so exceed- 
ingly brief, that if the captain have a family, or any 
absorbing concernment of that sort, he does not trouble 
himself much about his ship in port, but leaves her to 
the owners till all is ready for sea. However, it is always 
as well to have a look at him before irrevocably commit- 
ting yourself into his hands. Turning back I accosted 
Captain Peleg, inquiring where Captain Ahab was to be 

* And what dost thou want of Captain Ahab ? It 's 
all right enough ; thou art shipped.' 

' Yes, but I should like to see him. 3 

' But I don't think thou wilt be able to at present. I 
don't know exactly what 's the matter with him ; but 
he keeps close inside the house ; a sort of sick, and yet he 
don't look so. In fact, he ain't sick ; but no, he isn't well 
either. Anyhow, young man, he won't always see me, 
so I don't suppose he will thee. He 's a queer man, 
Captain Ahab so some think but a good one. Oh, 
thou 'It like him well enough ; no fear, no fear. He 's a 
grand, ungodly, god-like man, Captain Ahab ; doesn't 
speak much ; but, when he does speak, then you may well 
listen. Mark ye, be forewarned ; Ahab 's above the 
common ; Ahab 's been in colleges, as well as 'mong the 
cannibals ; been used to deeper wonders than the waves ; 
fixed his fiery lance hi mightier, stranger foes than whales. 
His lance ! ay, the keenest and the surest that out of 
all our isle ! Oh ! he ain't Captain Bildad ; no, and he 
ain't Captain Peleg ; he 's Ahab, boy ; and Ahab of old, 
thou knowest, was a crowned king ! ' 

' And a very vile one. When that wicked king was 
slain, the dogs, did they not lick his blood ? ' 

1 Come hither to me hither, hither,' said Peleg, with 


a significance in his eye that almost startled me. ' Look 
ye, lad ; never say that on board the Pequod. Never say 
it anywhere. Captain Ahab did not name himself. 
'Twas a foolish, ignorant whim of his crazy, widowed 
mother, who died when he was only a twelvemonth old. 
And yet the old squaw Tistig, at Gay Head, said that the 
name would somehow prove prophetic. And, perhaps, 
other fools like her may tell thee the same. I wish to 
warn thee. It 's a lie. I know Captain Ahab well ; I 've 
sailed with him as mate years ago ; I know what he is a 
good man not a pious, good man, like Bildad, but a 
swearing good man something like me only there 's a 
good deal more of him. Ay, ay, I know that he was 
never very jolly ; and I know that on the passage home, 
he was a little out of his mind for a spell ; but it was the 
sharp shooting pains in his bleeding stump that brought 
that about, as anyone might see. I know, too, that ever 
since he lost his leg last voyage by that accursed whale, 
he ? s been a kind of moody desperate moody, and savage 
sometimes ; but that will all pass off. And once for all, 
let me tell thee and assure thee, young man, it 's better 
to sail with a moody good captain than a laughing bad 
one. So good-bye to thee and wrong not Captain 
Ahab, because he happens to have a wicked name. Be- 
sides, my boy, he has a wife not three voyages wedded 
a_ sweet, resigned girl. Think of that ; by that sweet 
girl that old man has a child : hold ye then there can be 
any utter, hopeless harm in Ahab ? No, no, my lad ; 
stricken, blasted, if he be, Ahab has his humanities ! ' 

As I walked away, I was full of thoughtfuhiess ; what 
had been incidentally revealed to me of Captain Ahab, 
filled me with a certain wild vagueness of painfulness 
concerning him. And somehow, at the time, I felt a 
sympathy and a sorrow for him, but for I don't know 
what, ^unless it was the cruel loss of his leg. And yet I 


also felt a strange awe of him ; but that sort of awe, 
which I cannot at all describe, was not exactly awe ; I 
do not know what it was. But I felt it ; and it did not 
disincline me toward him ; though I felt impatience 
at what seemed like mystery in him, so imperfectly as 
he was known to me then. However, my thoughts were 
at length carried in other directions, so that for the present 
dark Ahab slipped my mind. 



As Queequeg 's Ramadan, or Fasting and Humiliation, 
was to continue all day, I did not choose to disturb him 
till toward night -fall ; for I cherish the greatest respect 
toward everybody's religious obligations, never mind 
how comical, and could not find it in my heart to under- 
value even a congregation of ants worshipping a toad- 
stool ; or those other creatures in certain parts of our 
earth, who with a degree of footmanism quite unpre- 
cedented in other planets, bow down before the torso 
of a deceased landed proprietor merely on account of 
the inordinate possessions yet owned and rented in his 

I say, we good Presbyterian Christians should be 
charitable in these things, and not fancy ourselves so 
vastly superior to other mortals, pagans and what not, 
because of their half -crazy conceits on these subjects. 
There was Queequeg, now, certainly entertaining the most 
absurd notions about Yojo and his Ramadan ; but what 
of that ? Queequeg thought he knew what he was about, 
I suppose ; he seemed to be content ; and there let him 
rest. All our arguing with him would not avail ; let him 
be, I say : and Heaven have mercy on us all Presby- 
terians and pagans alike for we are all somehow dread- 
fully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending. 

Toward evening, when I felt assured that all his 
performances and rituals must be over, I went up to his 
room and knocked at the door ; but no answer. I tried 



to open it, but it was fastened inside. ' Queequeg,' said I 
softly through the keyhole : all silent. ' I say, Quee- 
queg ! why don't you speak ? It 's I Ishmael.' But 
all remained still as before. I began to grow alarmed. I 
had allowed him such abundant time ; I thought he might 
have had an apoplectic fit. I looked through the key- 
hole ; but the door opening into an odd corner of the 
room, the keyhole prospect was but a crooked and sinister 
one. I could only see part of the foot-board of the bed 
and a line of the wall, but nothing more. I was surprised 
to behold resting against the wall the wooden shaft of Quee- 
queg 's harpoon, which the landlady the evening previous 
had taken from him, before our mounting to the chamber. 
That 's strange, thought I ; but at any rate, since the 
harpoon stands yonder, and he seldom or never goes 
abroad without it, therefore he must be inside here, and 
no possible mistake. 

' Queequeg ! Queequeg ! ' all still. Something must 
have happened. Apoplexy ! I tried to burst open the 
door ; but it stubbornly resisted. Running downstairs, 
I quickly stated my suspicions to the first person I met 
the chambermaid. ' La ! la ! ' she cried, ' I thought 
something must be the matter. I went to make the bed 
after breakfast, and the door was locked ; and not a 
mouse to be heard ; and it 's been just so silent ever since. 
But I thought, maybe, you had both gone off and locked 
your baggage in for safe keeping. La ! la, ma'am ! 
Mistress ! murder ! Mrs. Hussey ! apoplexy ! ' and 
with these cries, she ran toward the kitchen, I following. 

Mrs. Hussey soon appeared, with a mustard-pot in one 
hand and a vinegar-cruet in the other, having just broken 
away from the occupation of attending to the castors, 
and scolding her little black boy meantime. 

' Wood-house ! ' cried I, ' which way to it ? Run, for 
God's sake, and fetch something to pry open the door 


the axe ! the axe ! he 's had a stroke ; depend upon 
it ! ' and so saying I was unmethodically rushing up- 
stairs again empty-handed, when Mrs. Hussey interposed 
the mustard-pot and vinegar-cruet, and the entire castor 
of her countenance. 

' What J s the matter with you, young man ? ' 

' Get the axe ! For God's sake, run for the doctor, 
someone, while I pry it open ! ' 

' Look here/ said the landlady, quickly putting down 
the vinegar-cruet, so as to have one hand free ; ' look 
here ; are you talking about prying open any of my 
doors ? ' and with that she seized my arm. ' What 's 
the matter with you ? What 's the matter with you, 
shipmate ? ' 

In as calm, but rapid a manner as possible, I gave her 
to understand the whole case. Unconsciously clapping 
the vinegar-cruet to one side of her nose, she ruminated 
for an instant ; then exclaimed 4 No ! I haven't seen it 
since I put it there.' Running to a little closet under the 
landing of the stairs, she glanced in, and returning, told 
me that Queequeg's harpoon was missing. ' He 's killed 
himself,' she cried. ' It 's unfort'nate Stiggs done over 
again there goes another counterpane God pity his 
poor mother ! it will be the ruin of my house. Has 
the poor lad a sister ? Where 's that girl ? there, Betty, 
go to Snarles the Painter, and tell him to paint me a sign, 
with " no suicides permitted here, and no smoking in 
the parlour " ; might as well kill both birds at once. 
Kill ? The Lord be merciful to his ghost ! What 's 
that noise there ? You, young man, avast there ! ' 

And running after me, she caught me as I was again 
trying to force open the door. 

' I won't allow it ; I won't have my premises spoiled. 
Go for the locksmith, there 's one about a mile from here. 
But avast ! ' putting her hand in her side-pocket, ' here 's 


a key that '11 fit, I guess ; let 's see.' And with that, she 
turned it in the lock ; but, alas ! Queequeg 's supple- 
mental bolt remained unwithdrawn within. 

6 Have to burst it open,' said I, and was running down 
the entry a little, for a good start, when the landlady 
caught at me, again vowing I should not break down her 
premises ; but I tore from her, and with a sudden bodily 
rush dashed myself full against the mark. 

With a prodigious noise the door flew open, and the 
knob slamming against the wall, sent the plaster to the 
ceiling ; and there, good heavens ! there sat Queequeg, 
altogether cool and self-collected ; right in the middle 
of the room ; squatting on his hams, and holding Yojo 
on top of his head. He looked neither one way nor the 
other way, but sat like a carved image with scarce a sign 
of active life. 

' Queequeg/ said I, going up to him, ' Queequeg, what 's 
the matter with you ? ' 

' He hain't been a-sittin* so all day, has he ? ' said the 

But all we said, not a word could we drag out of him ; 
I almost felt like pushing him over, so as to change his 
position, for it was almost intolerable, it seemed so pain- 
fully and unnaturally constrained ; especially, as in all 
probability he had been sitting so for upward of eight or 
ten hours, going too without his regular meals. 

'Mrs. Hussey,' said I, 'he's alive, at all events; so 
leave us, if you please, and I will see to this strange affair 

Closing the door upon the landlady, I endeavoured to 
>revail upon Queequeg to take a chair ; but in vain. 
There he sat ; and all he could do for all my polite 
arts and blandishments he would not move a peg, nor 
say a single word, nor even look at me, nor notice my 
presence in any the slightest way. 


I wonder, thought I, if this can possibly be a part of his 
Ramadan ; do they fast on their hams that way in his 
native island ? It must be so ; yes, it 's part of his 
creed, I suppose ; well, then, let him rest ; he '11 get up 
sooner or later, no doubt. It can't last for ever, thank 
God, and his Ramadan only comes once a year ; and I 
don't believe it 's very punctual then. 

I went down to supper. After sitting a long time 
listening to the long stories of some sailors who had just 
come from a plum-pudding voyage, as they called it (that 
is, a short whaling voyage in a schooner or brig, confined 
to the north of the Line, in the Atlantic Ocean only) ; after 
listening to these plum-puddingers till nearly eleven 
o'clock, I went upstairs to go to bed, feeling quite sure 
by this time Queequeg must certainly have brought his 
Ramadan to a termination. But no ; there he was just 
where I had left him ; he had not stirred an inch. I began 
to grow vexed with him ; it seemed so downright sense- 
less and insane to be sitting there all day and half the 
night on his hams in a cold room, holding a piece of wood 
on his head. 

' For heaven's sake, Queequeg, get up and shake your- 
self ; get up and have some supper. You 11 starve ; 
you '11 kill yourself, Queequeg.' But not a word did he 

Despairing of him, therefore, I deter mined to go to bed 
and to sleep ; and no doubt, before a great while, he 
would follow me. But previous to turning in, I took my 
heavy bearskin jacket, and threw it over him, as it 
promised to be a very cold night ; and he had nothing 
but his ordinary round jacket on. For some time, do 
all I would, I could not get into the faintest doze. I had 
blown out the candle ; and the mere thought of Queequeg 
not four feet off sitting there in that uneasy position, 
stark alone in the cold and dark ; this made me really 


wretched. Think of it ; sleeping all night in the same 
room with a wide-awake pagan on his hams in this dreary, 
unaccountable Ramadan ! 

But somehow I dropped off at last, and knew nothing 
more till break of day ; when, looking over the bedside, 
there squatted Queequeg, as if he had been screwed down 
to the floor. But as soon as the first glimpse of sun 
entered the window, up he got, with stiff and grating 
joints, but with a cheerful look ; limped toward me where 
I lay ; pressed his forehead again against mine ; and said 
his Ramadan was over. 

Now, as I before hinted, I have no objection to any 
person's religion, be it what it may, so long as that person 
does not kill or insult any other person, because that other 
person don't believe it also. But when a man's religion 
becomes really frantic ; when it is a positive torment to 
him ; and, in fine, makes this earth of ours an uncom- 
fortable inn to lodge in ; then I think it high time to take 
that individual aside and argue the point with him. 

And just so I now did with Queequeg. ' Queequeg,' 
said I, ' get into bed now, and lie and listen to me.' I 
then went on, beginning with the rise and progress of 
the primitive religions, and coming down to the various 
religions of the present time, during which time I laboured 
to show Queequeg that all these Lents, Ramadans, and 
prolonged ham-squattings in cold, cheerless rooms were 
stark nonsense ; bad for the health ; useless for the soul ; 
opposed, in short, to the obvious laws of hygiene and 
common-sense. I told him, too, that he being in other 
things such an extremely sensible and sagacious savage, 
it pained me, very badly pained me, to see him now so 
deplorably foolish about this ridiculous Ramadan of his. 
Besides, argued I, fasting makes the body cave in ; hence 
the spirit caves in ; and all thoughts born of a fast must 
necessarily be half -starved. This is the reason why most 


dyspeptic religionists cherish such melancholy notions 
about their hereafters. In one word, Queequeg, said I, 
rather digressively ; hell is an idea first born on an un- 
digested apple-dumpling ; and since then perpetuated 
through the hereditary dyspepsias nurtured by Bamadans. 

I then asked Queequeg whether he himself was ever 
troubled with dyspepsia ; expressing the idea very plainly, 
so that he could take it in. He said no ; only upon one 
memorable occasion. It was after a great feast given 
by his father the King, on the gaming of a great battle 
wherein fifty of the enemy had been killed by about two 
o'clock in the afternoon, and all cooked and eaten that 
very evening. 

4 No more, Queequeg,' said I, shuddering ; 'that will 
do ' ; for I knew the inferences without his further hint- 
ing them. I had seen a sailor who had visited that very 
island, and he told me that it was the custom, when a 
great battle had been gained there, to barbecue all the 
slain in the yard or garden of the victor ; and then, one 
by one, they were placed in great wooden trenchers, and 
garnished round like a pilau, with breadfruit and cocoa- 
nuts ; and with some parsley in their mouths, were sent 
round with the victor's compliments to all his friends, 
just as though these presents were so many Christmas 

After all, I do not think that my remarks about religion 
made much impression upon Queequeg. Because, in 
the first place, he somehow seemed dull of hearing on 
that important subject, unless considered from his own 
point of view ; and, in the second place, he did not more 
than one-third understand me, couch my ideas simply as 
I would ; and, finally, he no doubt thought he knew a 
good deal more about the true religion than I did. He 
looked at me with a sort of condescending concern and 
compassion, as though he thought it a great pity that such 


a sensible young man should be so hopelessly lost to 
evangelical pagan piety. 

At last we rose and dressed ; and Queequeg, taking a 
prodigiously hearty breakfast of chowders of all sorts, so 
that the landlady should not make much profit by reason 
of his Ramadan, we sallied out to board the Pequod, 
sauntering along, and picking our teeth with halibut 



As we were walking down the end of the wharf toward 
the ship, Queequeg carrying his harpoon, Captain Peleg 
in his gruff voice loudly hailed us from his wigwam, saying 
he had not suspected my friend was a cannibal, and 
furthermore announcing that he let no cannibals on 
board that craft, unless they previously produced their 

' What do you mean by that, Captain Peleg ? ' said I, 
now jumping on the bulwarks, and leaving my comrade 
standing on the wharf. 

' I mean,' he replied, ' he must show his papers.' 

' Yea,' said Captain Bildad in his hollow voice, sticking 
his head from behind Peleg 's, out of the wigwam. ' He 
must show that he 's converted. Son of darkness/ he 
added, turning to Queequeg, c art thou at present in 
communion with any Christian church ? ' 

' Why/ said I, ' he 's a member of the First Congrega- 
tional Church/ Here be it said, that many tattooed 
savages sailing in Nantucket ships at last come to be 
converted into the churches. 

' First Congregational Church/ cried Bildad, ' what ! 
that worships in Deacon Deuteronomy Cole man's meeting- 
house ? ' and so saying, taking out his spectacles, he rubbed 
them with his great yellow bandana handkerchief, and 
putting them on very carefully, came out of the wigwam, 
and leaning stiffly over the bulwarks, took a good long 
look at Queequeg. 


* How long hath he been a member ? ' he then said, 
turning to me ; ' not very long, I rather guess, young 

4 No/ said Peleg, ' and he hasn't been baptized right 
either, or it would have washed some of that devil's blue 
off his face.' 

' Do tell, now/ cried Bildad, ' is this Philistine a 
regular member of Deacon Deuteronomy's meeting ? 
I never saw him going there, and I pass it every Lord's 

' I don't know anything about Deacon Deuteronomy 
or his meeting/ said I, ' all I know is, that Queequeg here 
is a born member of the First Congregational Church. 
He is a deacon himself, Queequeg is.' 

' Young man/ said Bildad sternly, ' thou art skylarking 
with me explain thyself, thou young Hittite. What 
church dost thee mean ? answer me.' 

Finding myself thus hard pushed, I replied, ' I mean, sir, 
the same ancient Catholic Church to which you and I, 
and Captain Peleg there, and Queequeg here, and all of 
us, and every mother's son and soul of us belong ; the 
great and everlasting First Congregation of this whole 
worshipping world ; we all belong to that ; only some of 
us cherish some queer crotchets no ways touching the 
grand belief ; in that we all join hands/ 

' Splice, thou mean'st splice hands/ cried Peleg, draw- 
ing nearer. ' Young man, you 'd better ship for a mis- 
sionary, instead of a foremast hand ; I never heard a 
better sermon. Deacon Deuteronomy why Father 
Mapple himself couldn't beat it, and he 's reckoned some- 
thing. Come aboard, come aboard ; never mind about 
the papers. I say, tell Quohog there what 's that you 
call him ? tell Quohog to step along. By the great 
anchor, what a harpoon he 's got there ! looks like good 
stuff that ; and he handles it about right. I say, Quohog, 


or whatever your name is, did you ever stand in the head 
of a whale-boat ? did you ever strike a fish ? ' 

Without saying a word, Queequeg, in his wild sort of 
way, jumped upon the bulwarks, from thence into the 
bows of one of the whale-boats hanging to the side ; and 
then bracing his left knee, and poising his harpoon, cried 
out in some such way as this : 

' Cap'ain, you see him small drop tar on water dere ? 
You see him ? well, spose him one whale eye, well, den ! ' 
and taking sharp aim at it, he darted the iron right over 
old Bildad's broad brim, clean across the ship's decks, 
and struck the glistening tar spot out of sight/ 

' Now, 5 said Queequeg, quietly hauling in the line, 
* spos-ee him whale-e eye ; why, dad whale dead.' 

' Quick, Bildad,' said Peleg to his partner, who, aghast 
at the close vicinity of the flying harpoon, had retreated 
toward the cabin gangway. ' Quick, I say, you, Bildad, 
and get the ship's papers. We must have Hedgehog 
there, I mean Quohog, in one of our boats. Look ye, 
Quohog, we '11 give ye the ninetieth lay, and that 's 
more than ever was given a harpooneer yet out of 

So down we went into the cabin, and to my great joy 
Queequeg was soon enrolled among the same ship's 
company to which I myself belonged. 

When all preliminaries were over and Peleg had got 
everything ready for signing, he turned to me and said, 
' I guess, Quohog there don't know how to write, does he ? 
I say, Quohog, blast ye ! dost thou sign thy name or 
make thy mark ? ' 

But at this question, Queequeg, who had twice or 
thrice before taken part in similar ceremonies, looked 
no ways abashed ; but taking the offered pen, copied 
upon the paper, in the proper place, an exact counterpart 
of a queer round figure which was tattooed upon his arm ; 


so that through Captain Peleg's obstinate mistake touch- 
ing his appellative, it stood something like this : 

his >J< mark. 

Meanwhile Captain Bildad sat earnestly and stead- 
fastly eyeing Queequeg, and at last rising solemnly and 
fumbling in the huge pockets of his broad-skirted drab 
coat, took out a bundle of tracts, and selecting one entitled 
' The Latter Day Coming ; or No Time to Lose,' placed 
it in Queequeg 's hands, and then grasping them and the 
book with both his, looked earnestly into his eyes, and 
said, ' Son of darkness, I must do my duty by thee ; I am 
part owner of this ship, and feel concerned for the souls of 
all its crew ; if thou still clingest to thy pagan ways, which 
I sadly fear, I beseech thee, remain not for aye a Belial 
bondsman. Spurn the idol Bell, and the hideous dragon ; 
turn from the wrath to come ; mind thine eye, I say ; oh ! 
goodness gracious ! steer clear of the fiery pit ! ' 

Something of the salt sea yet lingered in old Bildad's 
language, heterogeneously mixed with Scriptural and 
domestic phrases. 

' Avast there, avast there, Bildad, avast now spoiling 
our harpooneer,' cried Peleg. ' Pious harpooneers never 
make good voyagers it takes the shark out of 'em ; no 
harpooneer is worth a straw who ain't pretty sharkish. 
There was young Nat Swaine, once the bravest boat- 
header out of all Nantucket and the Vineyard ; he joined 
the meeting, and never came to good. He got so 
frightened about his plaguy soul, that he shrinked and 
sheered away from whales, for fear of after-claps, in case 
he got stove and went to Davy Jones.' 

c Peleg ! Peleg ! ' said Bildad, lifting his eyes and hands, 
'thou thyself, as I myself, hast seen many a perilous 
time ; thou knowest, Peleg, what it is to have the fear of 

VOL. I. H 


death ; how, then, can'st thou prate in this ungodly guise. 
Thou beliest thine own heart, Peleg. Tell me, when this 
same Pequod here had her three masts overboard in that 
typhoon on Japan, that same voyage when thou went 
mate with Captain Ahab, didst thou not think of Death 
and the Judgment then ? ' 

' Hear him, hear him now, ' cried Peleg, marching across 
the cabin, and thrusting his hands far down into his 
pockets, ' hear him, all of ye. Think of that ! When 
every moment we thought the ship would sink ! Death 
and the Judgment then ? What ? With all three masts 
making such an everlasting thundering against the side ; 
and every sea breaking over us, fore and aft. Think of 
Death and the Judgment then ? No ! no time to think 
about Death then. Life was what Captain Ahab and I 
was thinking of ; and how to save all hands how to rig 
jury-masts how to get into the nearest port ; that was 
what I was thinking of. } 

Bildad said no more, but buttoning up his coat, stalked 
on deck, where we followed him. There he stood, very 
quietly overlooking some sail-makers who were mending 
a topsail in the waist. Now and then he stooped to pick 
up a patch, or save an end of the tarred twine, which 
otherwise might have been wasted. 



' SHIPMATES, have ye shipped in that ship ? ' 

Queequeg and I had just left the Pequod, and were 
sauntering away from the water, for the moment each 
occupied with his own thoughts, when the above words 
were put to us by a stranger, who, pausing before us, 
levelled his massive forefinger at the vessel in question. 
He was but shabbily apparelled in faded jacket and 
patched trowsers ; a rag of a black handkerchief investing 
his neck. A confluent small-pox had in all directions 
flowed over his face, and left it like the complicated ribbed 
bed of a torrent, when the rushing waters have been 
dried up. 

4 Have ye shipped in her ? ' he repeated. 

4 You mean the ship Pequod, I suppose,' said I, trying 
to gain a little more time for an uninterrupted look at him. 

' Ay, the Pequod that ship there/ he said, drawing 
back his whole arm, and then rapidly shoving it straight 
out from him, with the fixed bayonet of his pointed 
finger darted full at the object. 

' Yes,' said I, ' we have just signed the articles.' 

' Anything down there about your souls ? ' 

' About what ? ' 

' Oh, perhaps you hav'n't got any,' he said quickly. 
No matter though, I know many chaps that hav'n't got 

ly, good luck to 'em ; and they are all the better off for 
it. A soul 's a sort of a fifth wheel to a wagon.' 

' What are you jabbering about, shipmate ? ' said I. 




' He 's got enough, though, to make up for all de- 
ficiencies of that sort in other chaps,' abruptly said the 
stranger, placing a nervous emphasis upon the word he. 

' Queequeg,' said I, ' let 's go ; this fellow has broken 
loose from somewhere ; he 's talking about something 
and somebody we don't know.' 

' Stop ! ' cried the stranger. ' Ye said true ye 
hav'n't seen Old Thunder yet, have ye ? ' 

' Who 's Old Thunder ? ' said I, again riveted with the 
insane earnestness of his manner. 

' Captain Ahab.' 

' What ! the captain of our ship, the Pequod ? ' 

' Ay, among some of us old sailor chaps, he goes by 
that name. Ye hav'n't seen him yet, have ye ? ' 

' No, we hav'n't. He 's sick, they say, but is getting 
better, and will be all right again before long.' 

4 All right again before long ! ' laughed the stranger, 
with a solemnly derisive sort of laugh. ' Look ye ; when 
Captain Ahab is all right, then this left arm of mine will 
be all right ; not before.' 

i What do you know about him ? ' 

' What did they tell you about him ? Say that ! ' 

' They didn't tell much of anything about him ; only 
I 've heard that he 's a good whale -hunter, and a good 
captain to his crew.' 

' That 's true, that 's true yes, both true enough. 
But you must jump when he gives an order. Step and 
growl ; growl and go that 's the word with Captain 
Ahab. But nothing about that thing that happened to 
him off Cape Horn, long ago, when he lay like dead for 
three days and nights ; nothing about that deadly scrim- 
mage with the Spaniard afore the altar in Santa ? heard 
nothing about that, eh ? Nothing about the silver cala- 
bash he spat into ? And nothing about his losing his 
leg last voyage, according to the prophecy. Didn't ye 


hear a word about them matters and something more, eh ? 
No, I don't think ye did ; how could ye ? Who knows 
it ? Not all Nantucket, I guess. But hows'ever, may- 
hap, ye Ve heard tell about the leg, and how he lost it ; 
ay> ye have heard of that, I dare say. Oh yes, that 
every one knows a 'most I mean they know he 's only 
one leg ; and that a parmacetti took the other off.' 

4 My friend/ said I, ' what all this gibberish of yours is 
about, I don't know, and I don't much care ; for it seems 
to me that you must be a little damaged in the head. 
But if you are speaking of Captain Ahab of that ship there, 
the Pequod, then let me tell you, that I know all about 
the loss of his leg.' 

' All about it, eh sure you do ? all ? ' 

* Pretty sure.' 

With finger pointed and eye levelled at the Pequod, the 
beggar-like stranger stood a moment, as if in a troubled 
re very ; then starting a little, turned and said, ' Ye Ve 
shipped, have ye ? Names down on the papers ? Well, 
well, what 's signed, is signed ; and what 's to be, will be ; 
and then again, perhaps it won't be, after all. Anyhow, 
it's all fixed and arranged a 'ready ; and some sailors 
or other must go with him, I suppose ; as well these as 
any other men, God pity 'em ! Morning to ye, shipmates, 
morning ; the ineffable heavens bless ye ; I 'm sorry I 
stopped ye.' 

' Look here, friend,' said I, 'if you have anything im- 
portant to tell us, out with it ; but if you are only trying 
to bamboozle us, you are mistaken in your game ; that 's 
all I have to say.' 

' And it 's said very well, and I like to hear a chap talk 
up that way ; you are just the man for him the likes of 
ye. Morning to ye, shipmates, morning ! Oh ! when ye get 
there, tell 'em I Ve concluded not to make one of 'em.' 

' Ah, my dear fellow, you can't fool us that way you 


can't fool us. It is the easiest thing in the world for a man 
to look as if he had a great secret in him.' 

' Morning to ye, shipmates, morning.' 

' Morning it is,' said I. ' Come along, Queequeg, let 's 
leave this crazy man. But stop, tell me your name, will 


Elijah ! thought I, and we walked away, both comment- 
ing, after each other's fashion, upon this ragged old sailor ; 
and agreed that he was nothing but a humbug, trying to 
be a bugbear. But we had not gone perhaps above a 
hundred yards, when chancing to turn a corner, and look- 
ing back as I did so, who should be seen but Elijah follow- 
ing us, though at a distance. Somehow, the sight of him 
struck me so, that I said nothing to Queequeg of his being 
behind, but passed on with my comrade, anxious to see 
whether the stranger would turn the same corner that we 
did. He did ; and then it seemed to me that he was 
dogging us, but with what intent I could not for the life 
of me imagine. This circumstance, coupled with his 
ambiguous, half-hinting, half-revealing, shrouded sort of 
talk, now begat in me all kinds of vague wonderments 
and half -apprehensions, and all connected with the 
Pequod ; and Captain Ahab ; and the leg he had lost ; 
and the Cape Horn fit ; and the silver calabash ; and what 
Captain Peleg had said of him, when I left the ship the 
day previous ; and the prediction of the squaw Tistig ; 
and the voyage we had bound ourselves to sail ; and a 
hundred other shadowy things. 

I was resolved to satisfy myself whether this ragged Elijah 
was really dogging us or not, and with that intent crossed 
the way with Queequeg, and on that side of it retraced our 
steps. But Elijah passed on, without seeming to notice 
us. This relieved me ; and once more, and finally as it 
seemed to me, I pronounced him in my heart, a humbug. 



A DAY or two passed, and there was great activity aboard 
the Pequod. Not only were the old sails being mended, 
but new sails were coming on board, and bolts of canvas, 
and coils of rigging ; in short, everything betokened that 
the ship's preparations were hurrying to a close. Captain 
Peleg seldom or never went ashore, but sat in his wigwam 
keeping a sharp look-out upon the hands : Bildad did all 
the purchasing and providing at the stores ; and the men 
employed in the hold and on the rigging were working till 
long after night-fall. 

On the day following Queequeg's signing the articles, 
word was given at all the inns where the ship's company were 
stopping, that their chests must be on board before night, 
for there was no telling how soon the vessel might be sailing. 
So Queequeg and I got down our traps, resolving, how- 
ever, to sleep ashore till the last. But it seems they always 
give very long notice in these cases, and the ship did not 
sail for several days. But no wonder ; there was a good 
deal to be done, and there is no telling how many things 
to be thought of, before the Pequod was fully equipped. 

Everyone knows what a multitude of things beds, 
saucepans, knives and forks, shovels and tongs, napkins, 
nut -crackers, and what not, are indispensable to the 
business of housekeeping. Just so with whaling, which 
necessitates a three -years' housekeeping upon the wide 
ocean, far from all grocers, costermongers, doctors, bakers, 
and bankers . And though this also holds true of merchant 


vessels, yet not by any means to the same extent as with 
whalemen. For besides the great length of the whaling 
voyage, the numerous articles peculiar to the prosecution 
of the fishery, and the impossibility of replacing them at 
the remote harbours usually frequented, it must be 
remembered, that of all ships, whaling-vessels are the most 
exposed to accidents of all kinds, and especially to the 
destruction and loss of the very things upon which the 
success of the voyage most depends. Hence, the spare 
boats, spare spars, and spare lines and harpoons, and spare 
everythings, almost, but a spare captain and duplicate 

At the period of our arrival at the Island, the heaviest 
storage of the Pequod had been almost completed ; com- 
prising her beef, bread, water, fuel, and iron hoops and 
staves. But, as before hinted, for some time there was a 
continual fetching and carrying on board of divers odds 
and ends of things, both large and small. 

Chief among those who did this fetching and carrying 
was Captain Bildad's sister, a lean old lady of a most 
determined and indefatigable spirit, but withal very kind- 
hearted, who seemed resolved that, if she could help it, 
nothing should be found wanting in the Pequod, after 
once fairly getting to sea. At one time she would come 
on board with a jar of pickles for the steward's pantry ; 
another time with a bunch of quills for the chief mate's 
desk, where he kept his log ; a third time with a roll of 
flannel for the small of some one's rheumatic back. Never 
did any woman better deserve her name, which was 
Charity Aunt Charity, as everybody called her. And 
like a sister of charity did this charitable Aunt Charity 
bustle about hither and thither, ready to turn her hand 
and heart to anything that promised to yield safety, 
comfort, and consolation to all on board a ship in which 
her beloved brother Bildad was concerned, and in 


which she herself owned a score or two of well-saved 

But it was startling to see this excellent-hearted 
Quakeress coming on board, as she did the last day, with 
a long oil-ladle in one hand, and a still longer whaling- 
lance in the other. Nor was Bildad himself nor Captain 
Peleg at all backward. As for Bildad, he carried about 
with him a long list of the articles needed, and at every 
fresh arrival, down went his mark opposite that article 
upon the paper. Every once and a while Peleg came 
hobbling out of his whalebone den, roaring at the men 
down the hatchways, roaring up to the riggers at the 
mast-head, and then concluded by roaring back into his 

During these days of preparation, Queequeg and I often 
visited the craft, and as often I asked about Captain 
Ahab, and how he was, and when he was going to come on 
board his ship. To these questions they would answer, 
that he was getting better and better, and was expected 
aboard every day ; meantime, the two captains, Peleg 
and Bildad, could attend to everything necessary to fit the 
vessel for the voyage. If I had been downright honest 
with myself, I would have seen very plainly in my heart 
that I did but half fancy being committed this way to 
so long a voyage, without once laying my eyes on the man 
who was to be the absolute dictator of it, so soon as the 
ship sailed out upon the open sea. But when a man 
suspects any wrong, it sometimes happens that if he be 
already involved in the matter, he insensibly strives to 
cover up his suspicions even from himself. And much 
this way it was with me. I said nothing, and tried to 
think nothing. 

At last it was given out that some time next day the 
ship would certainly sail. So next morning, Queequeg 
and I took a very early start. 



IT was nearly six o'clock, but only gray imperfect misty 
dawn, when we drew nigh the wharf. 

' There are some sailors running ahead there, if I see 
right/ said I to Queequeg, ' it can't be shadows ; she 's off 
by sunrise, I guess ; come on ! ' 

' Avast ! ' cried a voice, whose owner at the same time 
coming close behind us, laid a hand upon both our 
shoulders, and then insinuating himself between us, stood 
stooping forward a little, in the uncertain twilight, 
strangely peering from Queequeg to me. It was 

c Going aboard ? ' 

' Hands off, will you,' said I. 

' Lookee here,' said Queequeg, shaking himself, ' go 
'way ! ' 

' Ain't going aboard, then ? ' 

' Yes, we are,' said I, ' but what business is that of 
yours ? Do you know, Mr. Elijah, that I consider you a 
little impertinent ? ' 

' No, no, no ; I wasn't aware of that,' said Elijah, 
slowly and wonderingly looking from me to Queequeg, 
with the most unaccountable glances. 

' Elijah,' said I, ' you will oblige my friend and me by 
withdrawing. We are going to the Indian and Pacific 
Oceans, and would prefer not to be detained.' 

c Ye be, be ye ? Coming back afore breakfast ? ' 

' He 's cracked, Queequeg,' said I ; ' come on.' 


' Halloa ! ' cried stationary Elijah, hailing us when we 
had removed a few paces. 

' Never mind him/ said I ; ' Queequeg, come on. 5 

But he stole up to us again, and suddenly clapping his 
hand on my shoulder, said, ' Did ye see anything looking 
like men going toward that ship a while ago ? ' 

Struck by this plain matter-of-fact question, I answered, 
saying, ' Yes, I thought I did see four or five men ; but it 
was too dim to be sure.' 

' Very dim, very dim,' said Elijah. ' Morning to ye.' 

Once more we quitted him ; but once more he came 
softly after us ; and touching my shoulder again, said, 
4 See if you can find 'em now, will ye ? ' 

' Find who ? ' 

* Morning to ye ! morning to ye ! ' he rejoined, again 
moving off. ' Oh ! I was going to warn ye against 
but never mind, never mind it 's all one, all in the 
family too ; sharp frost this morning, ain't it ? Good- 
bye to ye. Shan't see ye again very soon, I guess ; unless 
it 's before the Grand Jury.' And with these cracked 
words he finally departed, leaving me, for the moment, in 
no small wonderment at his frantic impudence. 

At last, stepping on board the Peqiiod, we found every- 
thing in profound quiet, not a soul moving. The cabin 
entrance was locked within ; the hatches were all on, and 
lumbered with coils of rigging. Going forward to the 
forecastle, we found the slide of the scuttle open. Seeing 
a light, we went down, and found only an old rigger there, 
wrapped in a tattered pea-jacket. He was thrown at 
whole length upon two chests, his face downward and 
enclosed in his folded arms. The profoundest slumber 
slept upon him. 

' Those sailors we saw, Queequeg, where can they have 
gone to ? ' said I, looking dubiously at the sleeper. But 
it seemed that, when on the wharf, Queequeg had not at 


all noticed what I now alluded to ; hence I would have 
thought myself to have been optically deceived in that 
matter, were it not for Elijah's otherwise inexplicable 
question. But I beat the thing down ; and again mark- 
ing the sleeper, jocularly hinted to Queequeg that perhaps 
we had best sit up with the body ; telling him to estab- 
lish himself accordingly. He put his hand upon the 
sleeper's rear, as though feeling if it was soft enough ; and 
then, without more ado, sat quietly down there. 

' Gracious ! Queequeg, don't sit there,' said I. 

c Oh ! perry dood seat,' said Queequeg, ' my country 
way ; won't hurt him face.' 

' Face ! ' said I, ' call that his face ? very benevolent 
countenance then ; but how hard he breathes, he ? s 
heaving himself ; get off, Queequeg, you are heavy, it 's 
grinding the face of the poor. Get off, Queequeg ! Look, 
he '11 twitch you off soon. I wonder he don't wake.' 

Queequeg removed himself to just beyond the head of 
the sleeper, and lighted his tomahawk-pipe. I sat at the 
feet. We kept the pipe passing over the sleeper, from 
one to the other. Meanwhile, upon questioning him in 
his broken fashion, Queequeg gave me to understand 
that, in his land, owing to the absence of settees and sofas 
of all sorts, the king, chiefs, and great people generally, 
were in the custom of fattening some of the lower orders 
for ottomans ; and to furnish a house comfortably in that 
respect, you had only to buy up eight or ten lazy fellows, 
and lay them round in the piers and alcoves. Besides, 
it was very convenient on an excursion ; much better 
than those garden-chairs which are convertible into 
walking-sticks ; upon occasion, a chief calling his attend- 
ant, and desiring him to make a settee of himself 
under a spreading tree, perhaps in some damp marshy 

While narrating these things, every time Queequeg 


received the tomahawk from me, he flourished the hatchet - 
side of it over the sleeper's head. 

' What 's that for, Queequeg ? ' 

' Perry easy, kill-e ; oh ! perry easy ! ' 

He was going on with some wild reminiscences about 
his tomahawk-pipe, which, it seemed, had in its two uses 
both brained his foes and soothed his soul, when we were 
directly attracted to the sleeping rigger. The strong 
vapour now completely filling the contracted hole, it began 
to tell upon him. He breathed with a sort of muffledness ; 
then seemed troubled in the nose ; then revolved over 
once or twice ; then sat up and rubbed his eyes. 

4 Halloa ! ' he breathed at last, ' who be ye smokers ? ' 

' Shipped men/ answered I. c When does she sail ? ' 

' Ay, ay, ye are going in her, be ye ? She sails to- 
day. The captain came aboard last night.' 

' What captain ? Ahab ? ' 

' Who but him indeed ? ' 

I was going to ask him some further questions concern- 
ing Ahab, when we heard a noise on deck. 

' Halloa ! Starbuck 's astir,' said the rigger. ' He 's 
a lively chief mate, that ; .good man, and a pious ; but 
all alive now, I must turn to.' And so saying he went on 
deck, and we followed. 

It was now clear sunrise. Soon the crew came on board 
in twos and threes ; the riggers bestirred themselves ; the 
mates were actively engaged ; and several of the shore 
people were busy in bringing various last things on board. 
Meanwhile Captain Ahab remained invisibly enshrined 
within his cabin. 



AT length, toward noon, upon the final dismissal of the 
ship's riggers, and after the Pequod had been hauled out 
from the wharf, and after the ever-thoughtful Charity 
had come off in a whale-boat, with her last gift a night- 
cap for Stubb, the second mate, her brother-in-law, and 
a spare Bible for the steward after all this, the two 
captains, Peleg and Bildad, issued from the cabin, and 
turning to the chief mate, Peleg said : 

' Now, Mr. Starbuck, are you sure everything is right ? 
Captain Ahab is all ready just spoke to him nothing 
more to be got from shore, eh ? Well, call all hands, 
then. Muster 'em aft here blast 'em ! ' 

' No need of profane words, however great the hurry, 
Peleg,' said Bildad, ' but away with thee, friend Starbuck, 
and do our bidding.' 

How now ! Here upon the very point of starting for 
the voyage, Captain Peleg and Captain Bildad were going 
it with a high hand on the quarter-deck, just as if they 
were to be joint-commanders at sea, as well as to all 
appearances in port. And, as for Captain Ahab, no sign 
of him was yet to be seen ; only, they said he was in the 
cabin. But then, the idea was, that his presence was by 
no means necessary in getting the ship under weigh, and 
steering her well out to sea. Indeed, as that was not at 
all his proper business, but the pilot's ; and as he was not 
yet completely recovered so they said therefore, Cap- 
tain Ahab stayed below. And all this seemed natural 



enough ; especially as in the merchant service many 
captains never show themselves on deck for a consider- 
able time after heaving up the anchor, but remain over 
the cabin table, having a farewell merry-making with 
their shore friends, before they quit the ship for good 
with the pilot. 

But there was not much chance to think over the 
matter, for Captain Peleg was now all alive. He seemed to 
do most of the talking and commanding, and not Bildad. 

' Aft here, ye sons of bachelors,' he cried, as the sailors 
lingered at the mainmast. ' Mr. Starbuck, drive 'em 

' Strike the tent there ! ' was the next order. As I 
hinted before, this whalebone marquee was never pitched 
except in port ; and on board the Pequod, for thirty years, 
the order to strike the tent was well known to be the next 
thing to heaving up the anchor. 

' Man the capstan ! Blood and thunder ! jump ! ' 
was the next command, and the crew sprang for the 

Now, in getting under weigh, the station generally 
occupied by the pilot is the forward part of the ship. 
And here Bildad, who, with Peleg, be it known, in addi- 
tion to his other offices, was one of the licensed pilots of 
the port he being suspected to have got himself made a 
pilot in order to save the Nantucket pilot -fee to all the 
ships he was concerned in, for he never piloted any other 
craft Bildad, I say, might now be seen actively engaged 
in looking over the bows for the approaching anchor, 
and at intervals singing what seemed a dismal stave of 
psalmody, to cheer the hands at the windlass, who roared 
forth some sort of a chorus about the girls in Booble Alley, 
with hearty goodwill. Nevertheless, not three days 
previous, Bildad had told them that no profane songs 
would be allowed on board the Pequod, particularly in 


getting under weigh ; and Charity, his sister, had placed 
a small choice copy of Watts in each seaman's berth. 

Meantime, overseeing the other part of the ship, Captain 
Peleg ripped and swore astern in the most frightful 
manner. I almost thought he would sink the ship before 
the anchor could be got up ; involuntarily I paused on my 
handspike, and told Queequeg to do the same, thinking 
of the perils we both ran, in starting on the voyage with 
such a devil for a pilot. I was comforting myself, how- 
ever, with the thought that in pious Bildad might be 
found some salvation, spite of his seven hundred and 
seventy-seventh lay ; when I felt a sudden sharp poke 
in my rear, and turning round, was horrified at the 
apparition of Captain Peleg in the act of withdrawing 
his leg from my immediate vicinity. That was my first 

' Is that the way they heave in the marchant service ? ' 
he roared. ' Spring, thou sheep-head ; spring, and break 
thy backbone ! Why don't ye spring, I say, all of ye 
spring ! Quohag ! spring, thou chap with the red 
whiskers ; spring there, Scotch-cap ; spring, thou green 
pants. Spring, I say, all of ye, and spring your eyes out ! ' 
And so saying, he moved along the windlass, here and 
there using his leg very freely, while imperturbable Bildad 
kept leading off with his psalmody. Thinks I, Captain 
Peleg must have been drinking something to-day. 

At last the anchor was up, the sails were set, and off 
we glided. It was a short, cold Christmas ; and as the 
short northern day merged into night, we found ourselves 
almost broad upon the wintry ocean, whose freezing spray 
cased us in ice, as in polished armour. The long rows of 
teeth on the bulwarks glistened in the moonlight ; and 
like the white ivory tusks of some huge elephant, vast 
curving icicles depended from the bows. 

Lank Bildad, as pilot, headed the first watch, and ever 


and anon, as the old craft deep dived into the green seas, 
and sent the shivering frost all over her, and the winds 
howled, and the cordage rang, his steady notes were 

* Sweet fields beyond the swelling flood, 

Stand dressed in living green. 

So to the Jews old Canaan stood, 

While Jordan rolled between.' 

Never did those sweet words sound more sweetly to me 
than then. They were full of hope and fruition. Spite 
of this frigid winter night in the boisterous Atlantic, 
spite of my wet feet and wetter jacket, there was yet, it 
then seemed to me, many a pleasant haven in store ; and 
meads and glades so eternally vernal, that the grass shot 
up by the spring, untrodden, unwilted, remains at 

At last we gained such an offing, that the two pilots 
were needed no longer. The stout sail-boat that had 
accompanied us began ranging alongside. 

It was curious and not unpleasing, how Peleg and Bildad 
were affected at this juncture, especially Captain Bildad. 
For loath to depart, yet ; very loath to leave, for good, 
a ship bound on so long and perilous a voyage beyond 
both stormy Capes ; a ship in which some thousands of 
his hard-earned dollars were invested ; a ship, in which 
an old shipmate sailed as captain ; a man almost as old 
as he, once more starting to encounter all the terrors of 
the pitiless jaw ; loath to say good-bye to a thing so every 
way brimful of every interest to him, poor old Bildad 
lingered long ; paced the deck with anxious strides ; ran 
down into the cabin to speak another farewell word there ; 
again came on deck, and looked to windward ; looked 
toward the wide and endless waters, only bounded by the 
* r-off unseen Eastern Continents ; looked toward the 

VOL. I. I 


land ; looked aloft ; looked right and left ; looked every- 
where and nowhere ; and at last, mechanically coiling 
a rope upon its pin, convulsively grasped stout Peleg 
by the hand, and holding up a lantern, for a moment stood 
gazing heroically in his face, as much as to say, * Never- 
theless, friend Peleg, I can stand it ; yes, I can.' 

As for Peleg himself, he took it more like a philosopher ; 
but for all his philosophy, there was a tear twinkling in 
his eye, when the lantern came too near. And he, too, 
did not a little run from cabin to deck now a word 
below, and now a word with Starbuck, the chief mate. 

But, at last, he turned to his comrade, with a final sort 
of look about him, 4 Captain Bildad come, old ship- 
mate, we must go. Back the main-yard there ! Boat 
ahoy ! Stand by to come close alongside, now ! Careful, 
careful ! come, Bildad, boy say your last. Luck to ye, 
Starbuck luck to ye, Mr. Stubb luck to ye, Mr. Flask 
good-bye, and good luck to ye all and this day three 
years I '11 have a hot supper smoking for ye in old 
Nantucket. Hurrah and away ! ' 

' God bless ye, and have ye in His holy keeping, men/ 
murmured old Bildad, almost incoherently. ' I hope 
ye '11 have fine weather now, so that Captain Ahab may 
soon be moving among ye a pleasant sun is all he needs, 
and ye '11 have plenty of them in the tropic voyage ye go. 
Be careful in the hunt, ye mates. Don't stave the boats 
needlessly, ye harpooneers ; good white cedar plank is 
raised full three per cent, within the year. Don't forget 
your prayers, either. Mr. Starbuck, mind that cooper 
don't waste the spare staves. Oh ! the sail-needles are 
in the green locker ! Don't whale it too much a Lord's 
days, men ; but don't miss a fair chance either, that 's 
rejecting Heaven's good gifts. Have an eye to the 
molasses tierce, Mr. Stubb ; it was a little leaky, I thought. 
If ye touch at the islands, Mr. Flask, beware of fornica- 


tion. Good-bye, good-bye ! Don't keep that cheese too 
long down in the hold, Mr. Starbuck ; it '11 spoil. Be 
careful with the butter twenty cents the pound it was, 
and mind ye, if 

' Come, come, Captain Bildad ; stop palavering, 
away ! ' and with that, Peleg hurried him over the side, 
and both dropped into the boat. 

Ship and boat diverged ; the cold, damp night breeze 
blew between ; a screaming gull flew overhead ; the two 
hulls wildly rolled ; we gave three heavy-hearted cheers, 
and blindly plunged like fate into the lone Atlantic. 



SOME chapters back, one Bulkington was spoken of, a tall, 
new-landed mariner, encountered in New Bedford at the 

When on that shivering winter's night the Pequod 
thrust her vindictive bows into the cold malicious waves, 
who should I see standing at her helm but Bulkington ! 
I looked with sympathetic awe and fearfulness upon the 
man, who in mid- winter just landed from a four years' 
dangerous voyage, could so unrestingly push off again 
for still another tempestuous term. The land seemed 
scorching to his feet. Wonderfullest things are ever the 
unmentionable ; deep memories yield no epitaphs ; this 
six-inch chapter is the stoneless grave of Bulkington. Let 
me only say that it fared with him as with the storm-tossed 
ship, that miserably drives along the leeward land. The 
port would fain give succour ; the port is pitiful ; in the 
port is safety, comfort, hearthstone, supper, warm 
blankets, friends, all that 's kind to our mortalities. But 
in that gale, the port, the land, is that ship's direst 
jeopardy ; she must fly all hospitality ; one touch of land, 
though it but graze the keel, would make her shudder 
through and through. With all her might she crowds all 
sail off shore ; in so doing, fights 'gainst the very winds 
that fain would blow her homeward ; seeks all the lashed 
sea's landlessness again ; for refuge's sake forlornly 
rushing into peril ; her only friend her bitterest foe ! 

Know ye, now, Bulkington ? Glimpses do ye seem to 



see of that mortally intolerable truth ; that all deep, 
earnest thinking is but the intrepid effort of the soul to 
keep the open independence of her sea ; while the wildest 
winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the 
treacherous, slavish shore ? 

But as in landlessness alone resides the highest truth, 
shoreless, indefinite as God so, better is it to perish in 
that howling infinite, than be ingloriously dashed upon 
the lee, even if that were safety ! For worm-like, then, 
oh ! who would craven crawl to land ! Terrors of the 
terrible ! is all this agony so vain ? Take heart, take 
heart, Bulkington ! Bear thee grimly, demigod ! Up 
from the spray of thy ocean-perishing straight up, 
leaps thy apotheosis ! 



As Queequeg and I are now fairly embarked in this busi- 
ness of whaling ; and as this business of whaling has some- 
how come to be regarded among landsmen as a rather 
unpoetical and disreputable pursuit ; therefore, I am all 
anxiety to convince ye, ye landsmen, of the injustice 
hereby done to us hunters of whales. 

In the first place, it may be deemed almost superfluous 
to establish the fact, that among people at large, the 
business of whaling is not accounted on a level with what 
are called the liberal professions. If a stranger were 
introduced into any miscellaneous metropolitan society, 
it would but slightly advance the general opinion of his 
merits, were he presented to the company as a harpooneer, 
say ; and if in emulation of the naval officers he should 
append the initials S.W.F. (Sperm Whale Fishery) to 
his visiting card, such a procedure would be deemed pre- 
eminently presuming and ridiculous. 

Doubtless one leading reason why the world declines 
honouring us whalemen is this : they think that, at best, 
our vocation amounts to a butchering sort of business ; 
and that when actively engaged therein, we are surrounded 
by all manner of defilements. Butchers we are, that is 
true. But butchers, also, and butchers of the bloodiest 
badge, have been all Martial Commanders whom the world 
invariably delights to honour. And as for the matter of 
the alleged uncleanliness of our business, ye shall soon 
be initiated into certain facts hitherto pretty generally 



unknown, and which, upon the whole, will triumphantly 
plant the sperm whale-ship at least among the cleanliest 
things of this tidy earth. But even granting the charge 
in question to be true ; what disordered slippery decks 
of a whale-ship are comparable to the unspeakable carrion 
of those battlefields from which so many soldiers return 
to drink in all ladies' plaudits ? And if the idea of peril 
so much enhances the popular conceit of the soldier's 
profession ; let me assure ye that many a veteran who 
has freely marched up to a battery, would quickly recoil 
at the apparition of the sperm whale's vast tail, fanning 
into eddies the air over his head. For what are the 
comprehensible terrors of man compared with the inter- i 
linked terrors and wonders of God ! 

But, though the world scouts at us whale-hunters, yet 
does it unwittingly pay us the profoundest homage ; yea, 
an all-abounding adoration ! for almost all the tapers, 
lamps, and candles that burn round the globe, burn, 
as before so many shrines, to our glory ! 

But look at this matter in other lights ; weigh it in all 
sorts of scales ; see what we whalemen are, and have been. 

Why did the Dutch in De Witt's time have admirals 
of their whaling-fleets ? Why did Louis xvi. of France, 
at his own personal expense, fit out whaling-ships from 
Dunkirk, and politely invite to that town some score or 
two of families from our own island of Nantucket ? Why 
did Britain between the years 1750 and 1788 pay to her 
whalemen in bounties upward of 1,000,000 ? And 
lastly, how comes it that we whalemen of America now\ 
outnumber all the rest of the banded whalemen hi the \ 
world ; sail a navy of upward of seven hundred vessels ; 
manned by eighteen thousand men ; yearly consuming 
4,000,000 of dollars ; the ships worth, at the time of 
sailing, $20,000,000 ; and every year importing into our 
harbours a well-reaped harvest of $7,000,000. How 


comes all this, if there be not something puissant in 
whaling ? 

But this is not the half ; look again. 
I freely assert, that the cosmopolite philosopher cannot, 
for his life, point out one single peaceful influence, which 
within the last sixty years has operated more potentially 
upon the whole broad world, taken in one aggregate, than 
the high and mighty business of whaling. One way and 
another, it has begotten events so remarkable in them- 
selves, and so continuously momentous in their sequential 
f issues, that whaling may well be regarded as that Egyptian 
/ mother, who bore offspring themselves pregnant from her 
womb. It would be a hopeless, endless task to catalogue 
all these things. Let a handful suffice. For many years 
\ past the whale-ship has been the pioneer in ferreting out 
the remotest and least known parts of the earth. She has 
explored seas and archipelagoes which had no chart, 
where no Cook or Vancouver had ever sailed. If Ameri- 
can and European men-of-war now peacefully ride in once 
savage harbours, let them fire salutes to the honour and 
the glory of the whale-ship, which originally showed them 
the way, and first interpreted between them and the 
savages. They may celebrate as they will the heroes 
of exploring expeditions, your Cooks, your Krusen- 
sterns ; but I say that scores of anonymous captains 
have sailed out of Nantucket, that were as great, and 
greater than your Cook and your Krusenstern. For in 
their succourless empty-handedness, they, in the heathen- 
ish sharked waters, and by the beaches of unrecorded, 
javelin islands, battled with virgin wonders and terrors 
that Cook with all his marines and muskets would not 
willingly have dared. All that is made such a flourish of 
in the old South Sea Voyages, those things were but the 
lifetime commonplaces of our heroic Nantucketers. 
Often, adventures which Vancouver dedicates three 


chapters to, these men accounted unworthy of being set 
down in the ship's common log. Ah, the world ! Oh, 
the world ! 

Until the whale-fishery rounded Cape Horn, no com- 
merce but colonial, scarcely any intercourse but colonial, 
was carried on between Europe and the long line of the 
opulent Spanish provinces on the Pacific coast. It was 
the whaleman who first broke through the jealous policy 
of the Spanish crown, touching those colonies ; and, if 
space permitted, it might be distinctly shown how from 
those whalemen at last eventuated the liberation of Peru, 
Chili, and Bolivia from the yoke of Old Spain, and the 
establishment of the eternal democracy in those parts. 

That great America on the other side of the sphere, 
Australia, was given to the enlightened world by the 
whaleman. After its first blunder-born discovery by a 
Dutchman, all other ships long shunned those shores as 
pestiferously barbarous ; but the whale -ship touched 
there. The whale-ship is the true mother of that now 
mighty colony. Moreover, in the infancy of the first 
Australian settlement, the emigrants were several times 
saved from starvation by the benevolent biscuit of the 
whale -ship luckily dropping an anchor in their waters. 
The uncounted isles of all Polynesia confess the same 
truth, and do commercial homage to the whale-ship, that 
cleared the way for the missionary and the merchant, and 
in many cases carried the primitive missionaries to their 
first destinations. If that double -bolted land, Japan, 
is ever to become hospitable, it is the whale-ship alone 
to whom the credit will be due ; for already she is on the 

But if, in the face of all this, you still declare that 
whaling has no aesthetically noble associations connected 
with it, then am I ready to shiver fifty lances with you 

jre, and unhorse you with a split helmet every time. 


The whale has no famous author, and whaling no 
famous chronicler, you will say. 

The whale no famous author, and whaling no famous 
chronicler ? Who wrote the first account of our levia- 
than ? Who but mighty Job ! And who composed the 
first narrative of a whaling voyage ? Who, but no less 
a prince than Alfred the Great, who, with his own royal 
pen, took down the words from Other, the Norwegian 
whale -hunter of those times ! And who pronounced our 
glowing eulogy in Parliament ? Who, but Edmund 
Burke ! 

True enough, but then whalemen themselves are poor 
devils ; they have no good blood in their veins. 

No good blood in their veins ? They have something 
better than royal blood there. The grandmother of 
Benjamin Franklin was Mary Morrel ; afterward, by 
marriage, Mary Folger, one of the old settlers of Nantucket ? 
and the ancestress to a long line of Folgers and har- 
pooneers all kith and kin to noble Benjamin this day 
darting the barbed iron from one side of the world to 
the other. 

Good again ; but then all confess that somehow whal- 
ing is not respectable. 

Whaling not respectable ? Whaling is imperial ! By old 
English statutory law, the whale is declared 'a royal fish.' l 

Oh, that 's only nominal ! The whale himself has never 
figured in any grand imposing way. 

The whale never figured in any grand imposing way ? 
In one of the mighty triumphs given to a Roman general 
upon his entering the world's capital, the bones of a whale, 
brought all the way from the Syrian coast, were the most 
conspicuous object in the cymballed procession. 1 

Grant it, since you cite it ; but, say what you will, 
there is no real dignity in whaling. 

1 See subsequent chapters for something more on this head. 


No dignity in whaling ? The dignity of our calling the 
very heavens attest. Cetus is a constellation in the south ! 
No more ! Drive down your hat in presence of the Czar, 
and take it off to Queequeg ! No more ! I know a man 
that, in his lifetime, has taken three hundred and fifty 
whales. I account that man more honourable than that 
great captain of antiquity who boasted of taking as many 
walled towns. 

And, as for me, if, by any possibility, there be any as 
yet undiscovered prime thing in me ; if I shall ever 
deserve any real repute in that small but high hushed 
world which I might not be unreasonably ambitious of ; 
if hereafter I shall do anything that, upon the whole, 
a man might rather have done than to have left undone ; 
if, at my death, my executors, or more properly my 
creditors, find any precious MSS. in my desk, then here 
I prospectively ascribe all the honour and the glory to 
whaling ; for a whale -ship was my Yale College and my 



IN behalf of the dignity of whaling, I would fain advance 
naught but substantiated facts. But after embattling his 
facts, an advocate who should wholly suppress a not 
unreasonable surmise, which might tell eloquently upon his 
cause such an advocate, would he not be blameworthy ? 

It is well known that at the coronation of kings and 
queens, even modern ones, a certain curious process of 
seasoning them for their functions is gone through. There 
is a salt-cellar of state, so called, and there may be a castor 
of state. How they use the salt, precisely who knows ? 
Certain I am, however, that a king's head is solemnly 
oiled at his coronation, even as a head of salad. Can it 
be, though, that they anoint it with a view of making 
its interior run well, as they anoint machinery ? Much 
might be ruminated here, concerning the essential dignity 
of this regal process, because in common life we esteem 
but meanly and contemptibly a fellow who anoints his 
hair, and palpably smells of that anointing. In truth, a 
mature man who uses hair-oil, unless medicinally, that 
man has probably got a quoggy spot in him somewhere. 
As a general rule, he can't amount to much in his totality. 

But the only thing to be considered here, is this what 
kind of oil is used at coronations ? Certainly it cannot 
be olive oil, nor macassar oil, nor castor oil, nor bear's oil, 
nor train oil, nor cod-liver oil. What then can it possibly 
be, but sperm oil in its unmanufactured, unpolluted 
state, the sweetest of all oils ? 

Think of that, ye loyal Britons ! we whalemen supply 
your kings and queens with coronation stuff ! 




THE chief mate of the Pequod was Starbuck, a native of 
Nantucket, and a Quaker by descent. He was a long, 
earnest man, and though born on an icy coast, seemed 
well adapted to endure hot latitudes, his flesh being hard 
as twice-baked biscuit. Transported to the Indies, his 
live blood would not spoil like bottled ale. He must have 
been born in some time of general drought and famine, 
or upon one of those fast days for which his state is 
famous. Only some thirty arid summers had he seen ; 
those summers had dried up all his physical superfluous- 
ness. But this, his thinness, so to speak, seemed no more 
the token of wasting anxieties and cares, than it seemed 
the indication of any bodily blight. It was merely the 
condensation of the man. He was by no means ill-look- 
ing ; quite the contrary. His pure tight skin was an 
excellent fit ; and closely wrapped up in it, and embalmed 
with inner health and strength, like a revivified Egyptian, 
this Starbuck seemed prepared to endure for long ages 
to come, and to endure always, as now ; for be it Polar 
snow or torrid sun, like a patent chronometer, his interior 
vitality was warranted to do well in all climates. Look- 
ing into his eyes, you seemed to see there the yet lingering 
images of those thousand-fold perils he had calmly con- 
fronted through life. A staid, steadfast man, whose life 
for the most part was a telling pantomime of action, and 
not a tame chapter of sounds. Yet, for all his hardy 
>briety and fortitude, there were certain qualities in 



him which at times affected, and in some cases seemed well- 
nigh to overbalance all the rest. Uncommonly con- 
scientious for a seaman, and endued with a deep natural 
reverence, the wild watery loneliness of his life did there- 
fore strongly incline him to superstition ; but to that 
sort of superstition, which in some organisations seems 
rather to spring, somehow, from intelligence than from 
ignorance. Outward portents and inward presentiments 
were his. And if at times these things bent the welded 
iron of his soul, much more did his far-away domestic 
memories of his young Cape wife and child tend to bend 
him still more from the original ruggedness of his nature, 
and open him still further to those latent influences which, 
in some honest-hearted men, restrain the gush of dare- 
devil daring, so often evinced by others in the more 
perilous vicissitudes of the fishery. ' I will have no man 
in my boat/ said Starbuck, ' who is not afraid of a whale.' 
By this, he seemed to mean, not only that the most 
reliable and useful courage was that which arises from the 
fair estimation of the encountered peril, but that an 
utterly fearless man is a far more dangerous comrade than 
a coward. 

' Ay, ay/ said Stubb, the second mate, ' Starbuck, 
there, is as careful a man as you '11 find anywhere in this 
fishery.' But we shall ere long see what that word 
' careful ' precisely means when used by a man like Stubb, 
or almost any other whale-hunter. 

Starbuck was no crusader after perils ; in him courage 
was not a sentiment ; but a thing simply useful to him, 
and always at hand upon all mortally practical occasions. 
Besides, he thought, perhaps, that hi this business of 
whaling, courage was one of the great staple outfits of the 
ship, like her beef and her bread, and not to be foolishly 
wasted. Wherefore he had no fancy for lowering for 
whales after sundown ; nor for persisting in fighting a 


fish that too much persisted in fighting him. For, thought 
Starbuck, I am here in this critical ocean to kill whales 
for my living, and not to be killed by them for theirs ; 
and that hundreds of men had been so killed Starbuck 
well knew. What doom was his own father's ? Where, 
in the bottomless deeps, could he find the torn limbs of 
his brother ? 

With memories like these in him, and, moreover, given 
to a certain superstitiousness, as has been said ; the 
courage of this Starbuck which could, nevertheless, still 
flourish, must indeed have been extreme. But it was not 
in reasonable nature that a man so organised, and with 
such terrible experiences and remembrances as he had ; 
it was not in nature that these things should fail in latently 
engendering an element in him, which, under suitable 
circumstances, would break out from its confinement, 
and burn all his courage up. And brave as he might be, 
it was that sort of bravery chiefly, visible in some intrepid 
men, which, while generally abiding firm in the conflict 
with seas, or winds, or whales, or any of the ordinary 
irrational horrors of the world, yet cannot withstand 
those more terrific, because more spiritual terrors, which 
sometimes menace you from the concentrating brow of an 
enraged and mighty man. 

But were the coming narrative to reveal, in any instance, 
the complete abasement of poor Starbuck's fortitude, 
scarce might I have the heart to write it ; for it is a thing 
most sorrowful, nay shocking, to expose the fall of valour 
in the soul. Men may seem detestable as joint-stock 
companies and nations ; knaves, fools, and murderers 
there may be ; men may have mean and meagre aces ; 
but man, hi the ideal, is so noble and so sparkling, such 
a grand and glowing creature, that over any ignominious 
blemish in him all his fellows should run to throw their 
costliest robes. That immaculate manliness we feel 


within ourselves, so far within us, that it remains intact 
though all the outer character seem gone, bleeds with 
keenest anguish at the undraped spectacle of a valour- 
ruined man. Nor can piety itself, at such a shameful 
sight, completely stifle her upbraidings against the per- 
mitting stars. But this august dignity I treat of, is not 
the dignity of kings and robes, but that abounding dignity 
which has no robed investiture. Thou shalt see it shining 
in the arm that wields a pick or drives a spike ; that 
democratic dignity which, on all hands, radiates without 
end from God ; Himself ! The great God absolute ! 
The centre and circumference of all democracy ! His 
omnipresence, our divine equality ! 

If, then, to meanest mariners, and renegades and casta- 
ways, I shall hereafter ascribe high qualities, though dark ; 
weave round them tragic graces ; if even the most mourn- 
ful, perchance the most abased, among them all, shall at 
times lift himself to the exalted mounts ; if I shall touch 
that workman's arm with some ethereal light ; if I shall 
spread a rainbow over his disastrous set of sun ; then 
against all mortal critics bear me out in it, thou just 
Spirit of Equality, which hast spread one royal mantle 
of humanity over all my kind ! Bear me out in it, thou 
great democratic God ! who didst not refuse to the 
swart convict, Bunyan, the pale, poetic pearl ; Thou 
who didst clothe with doubly hammered leaves of finest 
gold, the stumped and paupered arm of old Cervantes ; 
Thou who didst pick up Andrew Jackson from the pebbles ; 
who didst hurl him upon a war-horse ; who didst thunder 
him higher than a throne ! Thou who, in all Thy mighty, 
earthly marchings, ever cullest Thy selectest champions 
from the kingly commons ; bear me out in it, God ! 



STUBB was the second mate. He was a native of Cape 
Cod ; and hence, according to local usage, was called a 
Cape-Cod-man. A happy-go-lucky ; neither craven nor 
valiant ; taking perils as they came with an indifferent 
air ; and while engaged in the most imminent crisis of 
the chase, toiling away, calm and collected as a journey- 
man joiner engaged for the year. Good-humoured, easy, 
and careless, he presided over his whale-boat as if the 
most deadly encounter were but a dinner, and his crew 
all invited guests. He was as particular about the com- 
fortable arrangement of his part of the boat, as an old 
stage-driver is about the snugness of his box. When close 
to the whale, in the very death-lock of the fight, he 
handled his unpitying lance coolly and off-handedly, 
as a whistling tinker his hammer. He would hum over 
his old rigadig tunes while flank and flank with the most 
exasperated monster. Long usage had, for this Stubb, 
converted the jaws of death into an easy-chair. What 
he thought of death itself, there is no telling. Whether 
he ever thought of it at all, might be a question ; but, if 
he ever did chance to cast his mind that way after a com- 
fortable dinner, no doubt, like a good sailor, he took it to 
be a sort of call of the watch to tumble aloft, and bestir 
themselves there, about something which he would find 
out when he obeyed the order, and not sooner. 

What, perhaps, with other things, made Stubb such an 
easy-going, unfearing man, so cheerily trudging off with 

VOL. i. K 


the burden of life in a world full of grave peddlers, all 
bowed to the ground with their packs ; what helped to 
bring about that almost impious good-humour of his ; 
that thing must have been his pipe. For, like his nose, 
his short, black little pipe was one of the regular features 
of his face. You would almost as soon have expected 
him to turn out of his bunk without his nose as without 
his pipe. He kept a whole row of pipes there ready loaded, 
stuck in a rack, within easy reach of his hand ; and, 
whenever he turned in, he smoked them all out in suc- 
cession, lighting one from the other to the end of the 
chapter ; then loading them again to be in readiness anew. 
For, when Stubb dressed, instead of first putting his legs 
into his trowsers, he put his pipe into his mouth. 

I say this continual smoking must have been one 
cause, at least, of his peculiar disposition ; for everyone 
knows that this earthly air, whether ashore or afloat, is 
terribly infected with the nameless miseries of the number- 
less mortals who have died exhaling it ; and as in time 
of the cholera, some people go about with a camphorated 
handkerchief to their mouths ; so, likewise, against all 
mortal tribulations, Stubb 's tobacco smoke might have 
operated as a sort of disinfecting agent. 

The third mate was Flask, a native of Tisbury, in 
Martha's Vineyard. A short, stout, ruddy young fellow, 
very pugnacious concerning whales, who somehow seemed 
to think that the great leviathans had personally and 
hereditarily affronted him ; and therefore it was a sort 
of point of honour with him, to destroy them whenever 
encountered. So utterly lost was he to all sense of 
reverence for the many marvels of their majestic bulk 
and mystic ways ; and so dead to anything like an appre- 
hension of any possible danger from encountering them ; 
that in his poor opinion, the wondrous whale was but a 
species of magnified mouse, or at least water-rat, requiring 


only a little circumvention and some small application 
of time and trouble in order to kill and boil. This ignor- 
ant, unconscious fearlessness of his made him a little 
waggish in the matter of whales ; he followed these fish 
for the fun of it ; and a three years' voyage round Cape 
Horn was only a jolly joke that lasted that length of time. 
As a carpenter's nails are divided into wrought nails and 
cut nails ; so mankind may be similarly divided. Little 
Flask was one of the wrought ones ; made to clinch tight 
and last long. They called him King-Post on board of the 
Pequod ; because, in form, he could be well likened to the 
short, square timber known by that name in Arctic 
whalers ; and which by the means of many radiating 
side timbers inserted into it, served to brace the ship 
against the icy concussions of those battering seas. 

Now these three mates Starbuck, Stubb, and Flask 
were momentous men. They it was who by universal 
prescription commanded three of the Pequod' & boats as | 
headsmen. In that grand order of battle in which Gap- 
tain Ahab would probably marshal his forces to descend 
on the whales, these three headsmen were as captains 
of companies. Or, being armed with their long keen 
whaling-spears, they were as a picked trio of lancers ; 
even as the harpooneers were flingers of javelins. 

And since in this famous fishery, each mate or heads- 
man, like a Gothic knight of old, is always accompanied 
by his boat-steerer or harpooneer, who in certain con- 
junctures provides him with a fresh lance, when the former 
one has been badly twisted, or elbowed in the assault ; 
and moreover, as there generally subsists between the 
two a close intimacy and friendliness ; it is therefore 
but meet, that in this place we set down who the Pequod 's 
harpooneers were, and to what headsman each of them 

First of all was Queequeg, whom Starbuck, the chief 


mate, had selected for his squire. But Queequeg is 
already known. 

Next was Tashtego, an unmixed Indian from Gay 
Head, the most westerly promontory of Martha's Vine- 
yard, where there still exists the last remnant of a village 
of red men, which has long supplied the neighbouring 
island of Nantucket with many of her most daring har- 
pooneers. In the fishery, they usually go by the generic 
name of Gay-Headers. Tashtego 's long, lean, sable hair, 
his high cheek-bones, and black rounding eyes for an 
Indian, Oriental in their largeness, but Antarctic in their 
glittering expression all this sufficiently proclaimed him 
an inheritor of the unvitiated blood of those proud warrior 
hunters, who, in quest of the great New England moose, 
had scoured, bow in hand, the aboriginal forests of the 
main. But no longer snuffing in the trail of the wild 
beasts of the woodland, Tashtego now hunted in the wake 
of the great whales of the sea ; the unerring harpoon of 
the son fitly replacing the infallible arrow of the sires. 
To look at the tawny brawn of his lithe snaky limbs, you 
would almost have credited the superstitions of some of 
the earlier Puritans, and half-believed this wild Indian 
to be a son of the Prince of the Powers of the Air. Tash- 
tego was Stubb the second mate's squire. 

Third among the harpooneers was Daggoo, a gigantic, 
coal - black negro-savage, with a lion -like tread an 
Ahasuerus to behold. Suspended from his ears were 
two golden hoops, so large that the sailors called them 
ring-bolts, and would talk of securing the topsail halyards 
to them. In his youth Daggoo had voluntarily shipped 
on board of a whaler, lying in a lonely bay on his native 
coast. And never having been anywhere in the world 
but in Africa, Nantucket, and the pagan harbours most 
frequented by whalemen ; and having now led for many 
years the bold life of the fishery in the ships of owners un- 



commonly heedful of what manner of men they shipped ; 
Daggoo retained all his barbaric virtues, and erect as a 
giraffe, moved about the decks in all the pomp of six feet 
five in his socks. There was a corporeal humility in 
looking up at him ; and a white man standing before him 
seemed a white flag come to beg truce of a fortress. 
Curious to tell, this imperial negro, Ahasuerus Daggoo, 
was the squire of little Flask, who looked like a chess-man 
beside him. As for the residue of the Pequod'B company, 
be it said, that at the present day not one in two of the 
many thousand men before the mast employed in the 
American whale-fishery are Americans born, though pretty 
nearly all the officers are. Herein it is the same with 
the American whale-fishery as with the American army 
and military and merchant navies, and the engineering 
forces employed in the construction of the American 
canals and railroads. The same, I say, because in all 
these cases the native American liberally provides the 
brains, the rest of the world as generously supplying the 
muscles. No small number of these whaling seamen 
belong to the Azores, where the outward-bound Nan- 
tucket whalers frequently touch to augment their crews 
from the hardy peasants of those rocky shores. In like 
manner, the Greenland whalers sailing out of Hull or 
London put in at the Shetland Islands, to receive the 
full complement of their crew. Upon the passage home- 
ward, they drop them there again. How it is, there is 
no telling, but Islanders seem to make the best whalemen. 
They were nearly all Islanders in the Pequod, ' Isolatoes ' 
too, I call such, not acknowledging the common continent 
of men, but each Isolate living on a separate continent 
of his own. Yet now, federated along one keel, what a 
set these Isolatoes were ! An Anacharsis Clootz deputa- 
tion from all the isles of the sea, and all the ends of the 
earth, accompanying Old Ahab in the Pequod to lay the 


world's grievances before that bar from which not very 
many of them ever come back. Black Little Pip he 
never did oh, no ! he went before. Poor Alabama boy ! 
On the grim Pequod's forecastle, ye shall ere long see him, 
beating his tambourine ; prelusive of the eternal time, 
when sent for, to the great quarter-deck on high, he was 
bid strike in with angels, and beat his tambourine in 
glory ; called a coward here, hailed a hero there ! 



FOB several days after leaving Nantucket, nothing above 
hatches was seen of Captain Ahab. The mates regularly 
relieved each other at the watches, and for aught that 
could be seen to the contrary, they seemed to be the only 
commanders of the ship ; only they sometimes issued from 
the cabin with orders so sudden and peremptory, that 
after all it was plain they but commanded vicariously. 
Yes, their supreme lord and dictator was there, though 
hitherto unseen by any eyes not permitted to penetrate 
into the now sacred retreat of the cabin. 

Every time I ascended to the deck from my watches 
below, I instantly gazed aft to mark if any strange face 
were visible ; for my first vague disquietude touching 
the unknown captain, now in the seclusion of the sea, 
became almost a perturbation. This was strangely 
heightened at times by the ragged Elijah's diabolical 
incoherences uninvitingly recurring to me, with a subtle 
energy I could not have before conceived of. But poorly 
could I withstand them, much as in other moods I was 
almost ready to smile at the solemn whimsicalities of that 
outlandish prophet of the wharves. But whatever it was 
of apprehensiveness or uneasiness to call it so which I 
felt, yet whenever I came to look about me in the ship, 
it seemed against all warranty to cherish such emotions. 
For though the harpooneers, with the great body of the 
crew, were a far more barbaric, heathenish, and motley 
set than any of the tame merchant-ship companies which 



my previous experiences had made me acquainted with, 
still I ascribed this and rightly ascribed it to the fierce 
uniqueness of the very nature of that wild Scandinavian 
vocation in which I had so abandonedly embarked. But 
it was especially the aspect of the three chief officers of 
the ship, the mates, which was most forcibly calculated 
to allay these colourless misgivings, and induce confidence 
and cheerfulness in every presentment of the voyage. 
Three better, more likely sea-officers and men, each in 
his own different way, could not readily be found, and 
they were every one of them Americans ; a Nantucketer, 
a Vineyarder, a Cape man. Now, it being Christmas 
when the ship shot from out her harbour, for a space we 
had biting Polar weather, though all the time running 
away from it to the southward ; and by every degree 
and minute of latitude which we sailed, gradually leaving 
that merciless winter, and all its intolerable weather 
behind us. It was one of those less lowering, but still 
gray and gloomy enough mornings of the transition, when 
with a fair wind the ship was rushing through the water 
with a vindictive sort of leaping and melancholy rapidity, 
that as I mounted to the deck at the call of the forenoon 
watch, so soon as I levelled my glance toward the tanrail, 
foreboding shivers ran over me. Reality outran appre- 
hension ; .Captain Ahab stood upon his quarter-deck. 

There seemed no sign of common bodily illness about 
him, nor of the recovery from any. He looked like a man 
cut away from the stake, when the fire has overrunningly 
wasted all the limbs without consuming them, or taking 
away one particle from their compacted aged robustness. 
His whole high, broad form, seemed made of solid bronze, 
and shaped in an unalterable mould, like Cellini's cast 
Perseus. Threading its way out from among his gray 
hairs, and continuing right down one side of his tawny 
scorched face and neck, till it disappeared in his clothing, 

AHAB 153 

you saw a slender rod-like mark, lividly whitish. It 
resembled that perpendicular seam sometimes made in 
the straight, lofty trunk of a great tree, when the upper 
lightning tearingly darts down it, and without wrenching 
a single twig, peels and grooves out the bark from top to 
bottom, ere running off into the soil, leaving the tree still 
greenly alive, but branded. Whether that mark was born 
with him, or whether it was the scar left by some desperate 
wound, no one could certainly say. By some tacit con- 
sent, throughout the voyage little or no allusion was made 
to it, especially by the mates. But once Tashtego's 
senior, an old Gay-Head Indian among the crew, super- 
stitiously asserted that not till he was full forty years 
old did Ahab become that way branded, and then it 
came upon him, not in the fury of any mortal fray, but 
in an elemental strife at sea. Yet, this wild hint seemed 
inferentially negatived by what a gray Manxman in- 
sinuated, an old sepulchral man, who, having never 
before sailed out of Nantucket, had never ere this laid eye 
upon wild Ahab. Nevertheless, the old sea-traditions, 
the immemorial credulities, popularly invested this old 
Manxman with preternatural powers of discernment. 
So that no white sailor seriously contradicted him when 
he said that if ever Captain Ahab should be tranquilly 
laid out which might hardly come to pass, so he muttered 
then, whoever should do that last office for the dead 
would find a birth-mark on him from crown to sole. 

So powerfully did the whole grim aspect of Ahab affect 
me, and the livid brand which streaked it, that for the 
first few moments I hardly noted that not a little of this 
overbearing grimness was owing to the barbaric white 
leg upon which he partly stood. It had previously come 
to me that this ivory leg had at sea been fashioned from 
the polished bone of the sperm whale's jaw. * Ay, he 
was dismasted off Japan,' said the old Gay-Head Indian 


once ; ' but like his dismasted craft, he shipped another 
mast without coming home for it. He has a quiver of 'em.' 

I was struck with the singular posture he maintained. 
Upon each side of the Pequod's quarter-deck, and pretty 
close to the mizen shrouds, there was an auger-hole, 
bored about half an inch or so, into the plank. His bone 
leg steadied in that hole ; one arm elevated, and holding 
by a shroud ; Captain Ahab stood erect, looking straight 
out beyond the ship's ever-pitching prow. There was an 
infinity of firmest fortitude, a determinate, unsurrender- 
able wilfulness, in the fixed and fearless, forward dedi- 
cation of that glance. Not a word he spoke ; nor did 
his officers say aught to him ; though by all their minutest 
gestures and expressions, they plainly showed the uneasy, 
if not painful, consciousness of being under a troubled 
master-eye. And not only that, but moody stricken 
Ahab stood before them with a crucifixion in his face ; 
in all the nameless regal overbearing dignity of some 
mighty woe. 

Ere long, from his first visit in the air, he withdrew into 
his cabin. But after that morning, he was every day 
visible to the crew ; either standing in his pivot -hole, 
or seated upon an ivory stool he had ; or heavily walking 
the deck. As the sky grew less gloomy ; indeed, began 
to grow a little genial, he became still less and less a recluse ; 
as if, when the ship had sailed from home, nothing but 
the dead wintry bleakness of the sea had then kept him 
so secluded. And, by and by, it came to pass, that he 
was almost continually in the air ; but, as yet, for all that 
he said, or perceptibly did, on the at last sunny deck, he 
seemed as unnecessary there as another mast. But the 
Pequod was only making a passage now ; not regularly 
cruising ; nearly all whaling preparatives needing super- 
vision the mates were fully competent to, so that there 
was little or nothing, out of himself, to employ or excite 

AHAB 155 

Ahab now ; and thus chase away, for that one interval, 
the clouds that layer upon layer were piled upon his 
brow, as ever all clouds choose the loftiest peaks to pile 
themselves upon. 

Nevertheless, ere long, the warm, warbling persuasive- 
ness of the pleasant, holiday weather we came to, seemed 
gradually to charm him from his mood. For, as when the 
red-cheeked, dancing girls, April and May, trip home to 
the wintry, misanthropic woods ; even the barest, 
ruggedest, most thunder-cloven old oak will at least send 
forth some few green sprouts, to welcome such glad- 
hearted visitants ; so Ahab did, in the end, a little 
respond to the playful allurings of that girlish air. More 
than once did he put forth the faint blossom of a look, 
which, in any other man, would have soon flowered out 
in a smile. 



SOME days elapsed, and ice and icebergs all astern, the 
Pequod now went rolling through the bright Quito spring, 
which, at sea, almost perpetually reigns on the threshold 
of the eternal August of the Tropic. The warmly cool, 
clear, ringing, perfumed, overflowing, redundant days, 
were as crystal goblets of Persian sherbet, heaped up 
flaked up, with rose-water snow. The starred and stately 
nights seemed haughty dames in jewelled velvets, nursing 
at home in lonely pride, the memory of their absent 
conquering Earls, the golden helmeted suns ! For 
sleeping man, 'twas hard to choose between such winsome 
days and such seducing nights. But all the witcheries 
of that unwaning weather did not merely lend new spells 
and potencies to the outward world. Inward they 
turned upon the soul, especially when the still mild hours 
of eve came on ; then, memory shot her crystals as the 
clear ice most forms of noiseless twilights. And all these 
subtle agencies, more and more they wrought on Ahab's 

Old age is always wakeful ; as if, the longer linked with 
life, the less man has to do with aught that looks like 
death. Among sea-commanders, the old graybeards will 
oftenest leave their berths to visit the night-cloaked deck. 
It was so with Ahab ; only that now, of late, he seemed 
so much to live in the open air, that truly speaking, his 
visits were more to the cabin, than from the cabin to the 
planks. ' It feels like going down into one's tomb,' 



he would mutter to himself, ' for an old captain like me 
to be descending this narrow scuttle, to go to my grave- 
dug berth/ 

So, almost every twenty-four hours, when the watches 
of the night were set, and the band on deck sentinelled 
the slumbers of the band below ; and when if a rope was 
to be hauled upon the forecastle, the sailors flung it not 
rudely down, as by day, but with some cautiousness 
dropped it to its place, for fear of disturbing their slumber- 
ing shipmates ; when this sort of steady quietude would 
begin to prevail, habitually, the silent steersman would 
watch the cabin-scuttle ; and ere long the old man would 
emerge, gripping at the iron banister, to help his crippled 
way. Some considerating touch of humanity was in 
him ; for at times like these, he usually abstained from 
patrolling the quarter-deck ; because to his wearied 
mates, seeking repose within six inches of his ivory heel, 
such would have been the reverberating crack and din 
of that bony step, that their dreams would have been of 
the crunching teeth of sharks. But once, the mood was 
on him too deep for common regardings ; and as with 
heavy, lumber-like pace he was measuring the ship from 
tanrail to mainmast, Stubb, the odd second mate, came 
up from below, and with a certain unassured, deprecating 
humorousness, hinted that if Captain Ahab was pleased 
to walk the planks, then, no one could say nay ; but 
there might be some way of muffling the noise ; hinting 
something indistinctly and hesitatingly about a globe 
of tow, and the insertion into it, of the ivory heel. Ah ! 
Stubb, thou didst not know Ahab then. 

' Am I a cannon-ball, Stubb/ said Ahab, ' that thou 
wouldst wad me that fashion ? But go thy ways ; I had 
forgot. Below to thy nightly grave ; where such as ye 
sleep between shrouds, to use ye to the filling one at last. 
Down, dog, and kennel ! ' 


{Starting at the unforeseen concluding exclamation of 
the so suddenly scornful old man, Stubb was speechless 
a moment ; then said excitedly, ' I am not used to be 
spoken to that way, sir ; I do but less than half like it, 

' Avast ! ' gritted Ahab between his set teeth, and 
violently moving away, as if to avoid some passionate 

' No, sir ; not yet,' said Stubb, emboldened. ' I will 
not tamely be called a dog, sir.' 

' Then be called ten times a donkey, and a mule, and 
an ass, and begone, or I 11 clear the world of thee ! ' 

As he said this, Ahab advanced upon him with such 
overbearing terrors in his aspect, that Stubb involuntarily 

' I was never served so before without giving a hard blow 
for it,' muttered Stubb, as he found himself descending 
the cabin-scuttle. ' It 's very queer. Stop, Stubb ; 
somehow, now, I don't well know whether to go back and 
strike him, or what 's that ? down here on my knees 
and pray for him ? Yes, that was the thought coming 
up in me ; but it would be the first time I ever did pray. 
It 's queer ; very queer ; and he 's queer too ; ay, take 
him fore and aft, he 's about the queerest old man Stubb 
ever sailed with. How he flashed at me ! his eyes like 
powder-pans ! is he mad ? Anyway there 's something 
on his mind, as sure as there must be something on a deck 
when it cracks. He ain't in his bed now, either, more 
than three hours out of the twenty-four ; and he don't 
sleep then. Didn't that Dough-Boy, the steward, tell 
me that of a morning he always finds the old man's ham- 
mock clothes all rumpled and tumbled, and the sheets 
down at the foot, and the coverlid almost tied into knots, 
and the pillow a sort of frightful hot, as though a baked 
brick had been on it ? A hot old man ! I guess he 's 


got what some folks ashore call a conscience ; it 's a kind 
of Tic-Dolly-row they say worse nor a toothache. Well, 
well ; I don't know what it is, but the Lord keep me from 
catching it. He 's full of riddles ; I wonder what he goes 
into the after-hold for, every night, as Dough -Boy tells me 
he suspects ; what 's that for, I should like to know ? 
Who 's made appointments with him in the hold ? Ain't 
that queer, now ? But there 's no telling, it 's the old 
game. Here goes for a snooze. Damn me, it 's worth a 
fellow's while to be born into the world, if only to fall right 
asleep. And now that I think of it, that 's about the first 
thing babies do, and that 's a sort of queer, too. Damn 
me, but all things are queer, come to think of 'em. But 
that 's against my principles. Think not, is my eleventh, 
commandment ; and sleep when you can, is my twelfth. 
"feo here goes again. But how 's that ? didn't he call me 
a dog ? blazes ! he called me ten times a donkey, and 
piled a lot of jackasses on top of that \ He might as well 
have kicked me, and done with it. Maybe he did kick me, 
and I didn't observe it, I was so taken all aback with his 
brow, somehow. It flashed like a bleached bone. What 
the devil 's the matter with me ? I don't stand right 
on my legs. Coming afoul of that old man has a sort of 
turned me wrong side out. By the Lord, I must have 
been dreaming, though How 1 how ? how ? but the 
only way 's to stash it ; so here goes to hammock again ; 
and in the morning, I '11 see how this plaguy juggling 
thinks over by daylight.' 



WHEN Stubb had departed, Ahab stood for a while leaning 
over the bulwarks ; and then, as had been usual with him 
of late, calling a sailor of the watch, he sent him below for 
his ivory stool, and also his pipe. Lighting the pipe at 
the binnacle lamp and planting the stool on the weather- 
side of the deck, he sat and smoked. 

In old Norse times, the thrones of the sea-loving Danish 
kings were fabricated, saith tradition, of the tusks of the 
narwhale. How could one look at Ahab then, seated on 
that tripod of bones, without bethinking him of the 
royalty it symbolised ? For a khan of the plank, and 
a king of the sea, and a great lord of leviathans was Ahab. 

Some moments passed, during which the thick vapour 
came from his mouth in quick and constant puffs, which 
blew back again into his face. ' How now, ' he soliloquised 
at last, withdrawing the tube, 'this smoking no longer 
soothes. Oh, my pipe ! hard must it go with me if thy 
charm be gone ! Here have I been unconsciously toiling, 
not pleasuring, ay, and ignorantly smoking to windward 
all the while ; to windward, and with such nervous whiffs, 
as if, like the dying whale, my final jets were the strongest 
and fullest of trouble. What business have I with this 
pipe ? This thing that is meant for sereneness, to send up 
mild white vapours among mild white hairs, not among 
torn iron -gray locks like mine. I '11 smoke no more 

He tossed the still lighted pipe into the sea. The fire 
hissed in the waves ; the same instant the ship shot by 
the bubble the sinking pipe made. With slouched hat, 
Ahab lurchingly paced the planks. 




NEXT morning Stubb accosted Flask. 

' Such a queer dream, King-Post, I never had. You 
know the old man's ivory leg, well I dreamed he kicked 
me with it ; and when I tried to kick back, upon my soul, 
my little man, I kicked my leg right off ! And then, 
presto ! Ahab seemed a pyramid, and I, like a blazing 
fool, kept kicking at it. But what was still more curious, 
Flask you know how curious all dreams are through 
all this rage that I was in, I somehow seemed to be think- 
ing to myself, that after all, it was not much of an insult, 
that kick from Ahab. " Why," thinks I, " what 's the 
row ? It 's not a real leg, only a false leg." And there 's 
a mighty difference between a living thump and a dead 
thump. That 's what makes a blow from the hand, 
Flask, fifty times more savage to bear than a blow from 
a cane. The living member that makes the living insult, 
my little man. And thinks I to myself afl the wnile, 
mind, while I was stubbing my silly toes against that 
cursed pyramid so confoundedly contradictory was it 
all, all the while, I say, I was thinking to myself, "What 's 
his leg now, but a cane a whalebone cane. Yes," 
thinks I, "it was only a playful cudgelling in fact, only 
a whaleboning that he gave me not a base kick. Be- 
sides," thinks I, " look at it once ; why, the end of it 
the foot part what a small sort of end it is ; whereas, if 
a broad-footed farmer kicked me, there 's a devilish broad 
insult. But this insult is whittled down to a point only." 

VOL. I. L 


But now comes the greatest joke of the dream, Flask. 
While I was battering away at the pyramid, a sort of 
badger-haired old merman, with a hump on his back, 
takes me by the shoulders, and slews me round. " What 
are you 'bout ? " says he. Slid ! man, but I was 
frightened. Such a phiz ! But, somehow, next moment 
I was over the fright. " What am I about ? " says I at 
last. " And what business is that of yours, I should like 
to know, Mr. Humpback ? Do you want a kick ? " By 
the lord, Flask, I had no sooner said that, than he turned 
round his stern to me, bent over, and dragging up a lot 
of seaweed he had for a clout what do you think I saw ? 
why, thunder alive, man, his stern was stuck full of 
marling-spikes, with the points out. Says I, on second 
thoughts, " I guess I won't kick you, old fellow." " Wise 
Stubb," said he, " wise Stubb " ; and kept muttering 
it all the time, a sort of eating of his own gums like a 
chimney hag. Seeing he wasn't going to stop saying 
over his " wise Stubb, wise Stubb," I thought I might as 
well fall to kicking the pyramid again. But I had only 
just lifted my foot for it, when he roared out, " Stop that 
kicking ! " " Halloa," says I, " what 's the matter now, 
old fellow ? " " Look ye here," says he ; " let 's argue 
the insult. Captain Ahab kicked ye, didn't he ? " " Yes, 
he did," says I "right here it was." "Very good," 
says he " he used his ivory leg, didn't he ? " " Yes, he 
did," says I. " WeU, then," says he, " wise Stubb, what 
have you to complain of ? Didn't he kick with right 
goodwill ? it wasn't a common pitch-pine leg he kicked 
with, was it ? No, you were kicked by a great man, and 
with a beautiful ivory leg, Stubb. It 's an honour ; I 
consider it an honour. Listen, wise Stubb. In old 
England the greatest lords think it great glory to be 
slapped by a queen, and made garter-knights of ; but, 
be your boast, Stubb, that ye were kicked by old Ahab, 


and made a wise man of. Remember what I say ; be 
kicked by him ; account his kicks honours ; and on no 
account kick back ; for you can't help yourself, wise 
Stubb. Don't you see that pyramid ? " With that, he 
all of a sudden seemed somehow, in some queer fashion, 
to swim off into the air. I snored ; rolled over ; and there 
I was in my hammock ! Now, what do you think of that 
dream, Flask ? ' 

4 1 don't know ; it seems a sort of foolish to me, 

4 Maybe ; maybe. But it 's made a wise man of me, 
Flask. D' ye see Ahab standing there, sideways looking 
over the stern ? Well, the best thing you can do, Flask, 
is to let that old man alone ; never speak to him, whatever 
he says. Halloa ! What 's that he shouts ? Hark ! ' 

' Mast-head, there ! Look sharp, all of ye ! There are 
whales hereabouts ! If ye see a white one, split your 
lungs for him ! ' 

' What do you think of that now, Flask ? ain't there a 
small drop of something queer about that, eh ? A white 
whale did ye mark that, man ? Look ye there 's 
something special in the wind. Stand by for it, Flask. 
Ahab has that that 's bloody on his mind. But, mum ; 
he comes this way.' 



ALREADY we are boldly launched upon the deep ; but 
soon we shall be lost in its unshored, harbourless immen- 
sities. Ere that come to pass ; ere the Pequod'a weedy 
hull rolls side by side with the barnacled hulls of the 
leviathan ; at the outset it is but well to attend to a 
matter almost indispensable to a thorough appreciative 
understanding of the more special leviathanic revelations 
and allusions of all sorts which are to follow. 

It is some systematised exhibition of the whale in his 
broad genera, that I would now fain put before you. Yet 
is it no easy task. The classification of the constituents 
of a chaos, nothing less is here essayed. Listen to what 
the best and latest authorities have laid down. 

' No branch of Zoology is so much involved as that which 
is entitled Cetology,' says Captain Scoresby, A.D. 1820. 

' It is not my intention, were it in my power, to enter 
into the inquiry as to the true method of dividing the 
cetacea into groups and families. * * * Utter confusion 
exists among the historians of this animal ' (Sperm 
whale), says Surgeon Beale, A.D. 1839. 

' Unfitness to pursue our research in the unfathomable 
waters.' ' Impenetrable veil covering our knowledge of 
the cetacea.' ' A field strewn with thorns.' ' All these 
incomplete indications but serve to torture us naturalists.' 

Thus speak of the whale, the great Cuvier, and John 
Hunter, and Lesson, those lights of zoology and anatomy. 
Nevertheless, though of real knowledge there be little, 



yet of books there are a plenty ; and so in some small 
degree, with Cetology, or the science of whales. Many are 
the men, small and great, old and new, landsmen and sea- 
men, who have at large or in little, written of the whale. 
Run over a few : The Authors of the Bible ; Aristotle ; 
Pliny ; Aldrovandi ; Sir Thomas Browne ; Gesner ; 
Ray ; Linnaeus ; Rondeletius ; Willoughby ; Green ; 
Artedi ; Sibbald ; Brisson ; Marten ; Lacepede ; Bonne- 
terre ; Desmarest ; Baron Cuvier ; Frederick Cuvier ; 
John Hunter ; Owen ; Scoresby ; Beale ; Bennett ; J. 
Ross Browne ; the Author of Miriam Coffin ; Olmstead ; 
and the Rev. T. Cheever. But to what ultimate general- 
ising purpose all these have written, the above-cited 
extracts will show. 

Of the names in this list of whale authors, only those 
following Owen ever saw living whales ; and but one of 
them was a real professional harpooneer and whaleman. 
I mean Captain Scoresby. On the separate subject of 
the Greenland or Right whale, he is the best existing 
authority. But Scoresby knew nothing and says nothing 
of the great Sperm whale, compared with which the Green- 
land whale is almost unworthy mentioning. And here 
be it said, that the Greenland whale is an usurper upon 
the throne of the seas. He is not even by any means the 
largest of the whales. Yet, owing to the long priority 
of his claims, and the profound ignorance which, till some 
seventy years back, invested the then fabulous or utterly 
unknown Sperm whale, and which ignorance to this 
present day still reigns in all but some few scientific 
retreats and whale -ports ; this usurpation has been every 
way complete. Reference to nearly all the leviathanic 
allusions in the great poets of past days, will satisfy you 
that the Greenland whale, without one rival, was to them 
the monarch of the seas. But the time has at last come 
for a new proclamation. This is Charing Cross ; hear ye ! 


good people all, the Greenland whale is deposed, the 
great Sperm whale now reigneth ! 

There are only two books in being which at all pretend 
to put the living Sperm whale before you, and at the same 
time, in the remotest degree succeed in the attempt. 
Those books are Beale's and Bennett's ; both in their 
time surgeons to the English South -Sea whale -ships, and 
both exact and reliable men. The original matter 
touching the Sperm whale to be found in their volumes is 
necessarily small ; but so far as it goes, it is of excellent 
quality, though mostly confined to scientific description. 
As yet, however, the Sperm whale, scientific or poetic, 
lives not complete in any literature. Far above all other 
hunted whales, his is an unwritten life. 

Now the various species of whales need some sort of 
popular comprehensive classification, if only an easy 
outline one for the present, hereafter to be filled in all its 
departments by subsequent labourers. As no better 
man advances to take this matter in hand, I hereupon 
offer my own poor endeavours. I promise nothing 
complete ; because any human thing supposed to be 
complete, must for that very reason infallibly be faulty. 
I shall not pretend to a minute anatomical description of 
the various species, or in this place at least to much of 
any description. My object here is simply to project the 
draught of a systematisation of Cetology. I am the 
architect, not the builder. 

But it is a ponderous task ; no ordinary letter-sorter 
in the Post Office is equal to it. To grope down into the 
bottom of the sea after them ; to have one's hands 
among the unspeakable foundations, ribs, and very pelvis 
of the world ; this is a fearful thing. What am I that I 
should essay to hook the nose of this leviathan ! The 
awful tauntings in Job might well appal me. ' Will he 
(the leviathan) make a covenant with thee ? Behold the 


hope of him is vain ! ' But I have swam through libraries 
and sailed through oceans ; I have had to do with whales 
with these visible hands ; I am in earnest ; and I will 
try. There are some preliminaries to settle. 

First : The uncertain, unsettled condition of this 
science of Cetology is in the very vestibule attested by 
the fact, that in some quarters it still remains a moot point 
whether a whale be a fish. In his System of Nature, 
A.D. 1776, Linnaeus declares, ' I hereby separate the whales 
from the fish. 5 But of my own knowledge, I know that 
down to the year 1850, sharks and shad, ale wives and 
herring, against Linnaeus 's express edict, were still found 
dividing the possession of the same seas with the leviathan. 

The grounds upon which Linnaeus would fain have 
banished the whales from the waters, he states as follows : 
' On account of their warm bilocular heart, their lungs, 
their movable eyelids, their hollow ears, penem intrantem 
feminam mammis lactantem,' and finally, ' ex lege naturae 
jure meritoque.' I submitted all this to my friends 
Simeon Macey and Charley Coffin, of Nantucket, both 
messmates of mine in a certain voyage, and they united 
in the opinion that the reasons set forth were altogether 
insufficient . Charley profanely hinted they were humbug . 

Be it known that, waiving all argument, I take the good 
old-fashioned ground that the whale is a fish, and call 
upon holy Jonah to back me. This fundamental thing 
settled, the next point is, in what internal respect does 
the whale differ from other fish. Above, Linnaeus has 
given you those items. But in brief, they are those : 
lungs and warm blood ; whereas, all other fish are lung- 
less and cold-blooded. 

Next : how shall we define the whale, by his obvious 
externals, so as conspicuously to label him for all time to 
come ? To be short, then, a whale is a spouting fish with 
a horizontal tail. There you have him. However con- 


traded, that definition is the result of expanded medita- 
tion. A walrus spouts much like a whale, but the walrus 
is not a fish, because he is amphibious. But the last term 
of the definition is still more cogent, as coupled with the 
first. Almost any one must have noticed that all the 
fish familiar to landsmen have not a flat, but a vertical, 
or up-and-down tail. Whereas, among spouting fish the 
tail, though it may be similarly shaped, invariably assumes 
a horizontal position. 

By the above definition of what a whale is, I do by no 
means exclude from the leviathanic brotherhood any sea- 
creature hitherto identified with the whale by the best- 
informed Nantucketers ; nor, on the other hand, link 
with it any fish hitherto authoritatively regarded as alien. 1 
Hence, all the smaller, spouting, and horizontal-tailed fish 
must be included in this ground-plan of Cetology. Now, 
then, come the grand divisions of the entire whale host. 

First : According to magnitude I divide the whales into 
three primary BOOKS (subdivisible into CHAPTERS), and 
these shall comprehend them all, both small and large. 


As the type of the FOLIO I present the Sperm Whale ; 
of the OCTAVO, the Grampus ; of the DUODECIMO, the 

FOLIOS. Among these I here include the following 
chapters : I. the Sperm Whale ; II. the Right Whale ; 
III. the Fin-lack Whale ; IV. the Hump-backed Whale \ 
V. the Razor-back Whale ; VI. the Sulphur-bottom Whale. 

BOOK I. (Folio), CHAPTER I. (Sperm Whale). This 

1 I am aware that down to the present time, the fish styled Lamatins 
and Dugongs (Pig-fish and Sow-fish of the Coffins of Nantucket) are 
included by many naturalists among the whales. But as these pig-fish 
are a nosy, contemptible set, mostly lurking in the mouths of rivers, and 
feeding on wet hay, and especially as they do not spout, I deny their 
credentials as whales ; and have presented them with their passports to 
quit the Kingdom of Cetology. 


whale, among the English of old vaguely known as the 
Trumpa whale, and the Physeter whale, and the Anvil- 
headed whale, is the present Cachalot of the French, and 
the Pottsfisch of the Germans, and the Macrocephalus 
of the Long Words. He is, without doubt, the largest 
inhabitant of the globe ; the most formidable of all 
whales to encounter ; the most majestic in aspect ; and 
lastly, by far the most valuable in commerce ; he being 
the only creature from which that valuable substance, 
spermaceti, is obtained. All his peculiarities will, in 
many other places, be enlarged upon. It is chiefly with 
his name that I now have to do. Philologically con- 
sidered, it is absurd. Some centuries ago, when the 
Sperm whale was almost wholly unknown in his own 
proper individuality, and when his oil was only accident- 
ally obtained from the stranded fish ; in those days 
spermaceti, it would seem, was popularly supposed to be 
derived from a creature identical with the one then known 
in England as the Greenland or Right whale. It was 
the idea also, that this same spermaceti was that quicken- 
ing humour of the Greenland whale which the first 
syllable of the word literally expresses. In those times, 
also, spermaceti was exceedingly scarce, not being used 
for light, but only as an ointment and medicament. It 
was only to be had from the druggists as you nowadays 
buy an ounce of rhubarb. When, as I opine, in the course 
of time, the true nature of spermaceti became known, its 
original name was still retained by the dealers ; no doubt 
to enhance its value by a notion so strangely significant 
of its scarcity. And so the appellation must at last have 
come to be bestowed upon the whale from which this 
spermaceti was really derived. 

BOOK I. (Folio), CHAPTER II. (Right Whale). In one 
respect this is the most venerable of the leviathans, being 
the one first regularly hunted by man. It yields the 


article commonly known as whalebone or baleen ; and 
the oil specially known as ' whale oil,' an inferior article 
in commerce. Among the fishermen, he is indiscrimin- 
ately designated by all the following titles : The Whale ; 
the Greenland Whale ; the Black Whale ; the Great 
Whale ; the True Whale ; the Right Whale. There is a 
deal of obscurity concerning the identity of the species 
thus multitudinously baptized. What then is the whale, 
which I include in the second species of my Folios ? It is 
the Great Mysticetus of the English naturalists ; the 
Greenland Whale of the English whalemen ; the Baleine 
Ordinaire of the French whalemen ; the Growlands Wal- 
fisch of the Swedes. It is the whale which for more than 
two centuries past has been hunted by the Dutch and 
English in the Arctic seas ; it is the whale which the 
American fishermen have long pursued in the Indian 
Ocean, on the Brazil Banks, on the Nor '-West Coast, and 
various other parts of the world, designated by them 
Right Whale Cruising-Grounds. 

Some pretend to see a difference between the Greenland 
whale of the English and the Right whale of the Ameri- 
cans. But they precisely agree in all their grand features ; 
nor has there yet been presented a single determinate 
fact upon which to ground a radical distinction. It is 
by endless subdivisions based upon the most inconclusive 
differences, that some departments of natural history 
become so repellingly intricate. The Right whale will 
be elsewhere treated of at some length, with reference to 
elucidating the Sperm whale. 

BOOK I. (Folio), CHAPTER III. (Fin-back). Under 
this head I reckon a monster which, by the various names 
of Fin-back, Tall-spout, and Long-John, has been seen 
almost in every sea and is commonly the whale whose 
distant jet is so often descried by passengers crossing the 
Atlantic, in the New York packet -tracks. In the length 


he attains, and in his baleen, the Fin-back resembles the 
Right whale, but is of a less portly girth, and a lighter 
colour, approaching to olive. His great lips present a 
cable-like aspect, formed by the intertwisting, slanting 
folds of large wrinkles. His grand distinguishing feature, 
the fin, from which he derives his name, is often a con- 
spicuous object. This fin is some three or four feet long, 
growing vertically from the hinder part of the back, of 
an angular shape, and with a very sharp-pointed end. 
Even if not the slightest other part of the creature be 
visible, this isolated fin will, at times, be seen plainly 
projecting from the surface. When the sea is moderately 
calm, and slightly marked with spherical ripples, and this 
gnomon-like fin stands up and casts shadows upon the 
wrinkled surface, it may well be supposed that the watery 
circle surrounding it somewhat resembles a dial, with its 
style and wavy hour-lines graved on it. On that Ahaz- 
dial the shadow often goes back. The Fin-back is not 
gregarious. He seems a whale-hater, as some men are 
man-haters. Very shy ; always going solitary ; unex- 
pectedly rising to the surface in the remotest and most 
sullen waters ; his straight and single lofty jet rising like 
a tall misanthropic spear upon a barren plain ; gifted with 
such wondrous power and velocity in swimming, as to 
defy all present pursuit from man ; this leviathan seems 
the banished and unconquerable Cain of his race, bearing 
for his mark that style upon his back. From having the 
baleen in his mouth, the Fin-back is sometimes included 
with the Right whale, among a theoretic species denomin- 
ated Whalebone whales, that is, whales with baleen. Of 
these so-called Whalebone whales, there would seem to be 
several varieties, most of which, however, are little known. 
Broad-nosed whales and Beaked whales ; Pike -headed 
whales ; Bunched whales ; Under- jawed whales and 
Rostrated whales, are the fishermen's names for a few sorts. 


In connection with this appellative of ' Whalebone 
whales/ it is of great importance to mention, that how- 
ever such a nomenclature may be convenient in facilitat- 
ing allusions to some kind of whales, yet it is in vain to 
attempt a clear classification of the leviathan, founded 
upon either his baleen, or hump, or fin, or teeth ; not- 
withstanding that those marked parts or features very 
obviously seem better adapted to afford the basis for a 
regular system of Cetology than any other detached 
bodily distinctions, which the whale, in his kinds, presents. 
How then ? The baleen, hump, back-fin, and teeth ; 
these are things whose peculiarities are indiscriminately 
dispersed among all sorts of whales, without any regard 
to what may be the nature of their structure in other and 
more essential particulars. Thus, the Sperm whale and 
the Hump-backed whale, each has a hump ; but there 
the similitude ceases. Then, this same Hump-backed 
whale and the Greenland whale, each of these has baleen ; 
but there again the similitude ceases. And it is just the 
same with the other parts above mentioned. In various 
sorts of whales, they form such irregular combinations ; 
or, in the case of any one of them detached, such an 
irregular isolation ; as utterly to defy all general methodis- 
ation formed upon such a basis. On this rock every one 
of the whale -naturalists has split. 

But it may possibly be conceived that, in the internal 
parts of the whale, in his anatomy there, at least, we 
shall be able to hit the right classification. Nay : what 
thing, for example, is there in the Greenland whale's 
anatomy more striking than his baleen ? Yet we have 
seen that by his baleen it is impossible correctly to classify 
the Greenland whale. And if you descend into the bowels 
of the various leviathans, why there you will not find 
distinctions a fiftieth part as available to the systematiser 
as those external ones already enumerated. What then 


remains ? nothing but to take hold of the whales bodily, 
in their entire liberal volume, and boldly sort them that 
way. And this is the Bibliographical system here adopted ; 
and it is the only one that can possibly succeed, for it 
alone is practicable. To proceed. 

BOOK I. (Folio), CHAPTER IV. (Hump-back). This 
whale is often seen on the northern American coast. He 
has been frequently captured there, and towed into 
harbour. He has a great pack on him like a peddler ; or 
you might call him the Elephant and Castle whale. At 
any rate, the popular name for him does not sufficiently 
distinguish him, since the Sperm whale also has a hump, 
though a smaller one. His oil is not very valuable. He 
has baleen. He is the most gamesome and light-hearted 
of all the whales, making more gay foam and white water 
generally than any other of them. 

BOOK I. (Folio), CHAPTER V. (Razor-back). Of this 
whale little is known but his name. I have seen him at a 
distance off Cape Horn. Of a retiring nature, he eludes 
both hunters and philosophers. Though no coward, he 
has never yet shown any part of him but his back, which 
rises in a long sharp ridge. Let him go. I know little 
more of him, nor does anybody else. 

BOOK I. (Folio), CHAPTER VI. (Sulphur-bottom). 
Another retiring gentleman, with a brimstone belly, 
doubtless got by scraping along the Tartarian tiles in 
some of his profounder divings. He is seldom seen ; at 
least I have never seen him except in the remoter Southern 
seas, and then always at too great a distance to study his 
countenance. He is never chased ; he would run away 
with rope -walks of line. Prodigies are told of him. 
Adieu, Sulphur-bottom ! I can say nothing more that is 
true of ye, nor can the oldest Nantucketer. 

Thus ends BOOK I. (Folio), and now begins BOOK II, 


OCTAVOS. 1 These embrace the whales of middling 
magnitude, among which at present may be numbered : 
I. the Grampus ; II. the Black Fish ; III. the Narwhale ; 
IV. the Killer ; V. the Thrasher. 

BOOK II. (Octavo), CHAPTER I. (Grampus). Though 
this fish, whose loud sonorous breathing, or rather blowing, 
has furnished a proverb to landsmen, is so well known 
a denizen of the deep, yet is he not popularly classed 
among whales. But possessing all the grand distinctive 
features of the leviathan, most naturalists have recog- 
nised him for one. He is of moderate octavo size, varying 
from fifteen to twenty-five feet in length, and of corre- 
sponding dimensions round the waist. He swims in 
herds ; he is never regularly hunted, though his oil is 
considerable in quantity, and pretty good for light. By 
some fishermen his approach is regarded as premonitory 
of the advance of the great Sperm whale. 

BOOK II. (Octavo), CHAPTER II. (Black Fish). I give 
the popular fishermen's names for all these fish, for gener- 
ally they are the best. Where any name happens to be 
vague or inexpressive, I shall say so, and suggest another. 
I do so now, touching the Black Fish, so called, because 
blackness is the rule among almost all whales. So, call 
him the Hyena whale, if you please. His voracity is well 
known, and from the circumstance that the inner angles 
of his lips are curved upward, he carries an everlasting 
Mephistophelean grin on his face. This whale averages 
some sixteen or eighteen feet in length. He is found in 
almost all latitudes. He has a peculiar way of showing 
his dorsal hooked fin in swimming, which looks something 
like a Roman nose. When not more profitably employed, 

1 Why this book of whales is not denominated the Quarto is very plain. 
Because, while the whales of this order, though smaller than those of the 
former order, nevertheless retain a proportionate likeness to them in figure, 
yet the bookbinder's Quarto volume in its diminished form does not 
preserve the shape of the Folio volume, but the Octavo volume does. 


the Sperm-whale hunters sometimes capture the Hyena 
whale, to keep up the supply of cheap oil for domestic 
employment as some frugal housekeepers, in the absence 
of company, and quite alone by themselves, burn un- 
savoury tallow instead of odorous wax. Though their 
blubber is very thin, some of these whales will yield you 
upward of thirty gallons of oil. 

BOOK II. (Octavo), CHAPTER III. (Narwhale), that is, 
Nostril Whale. Another instance of a curiously named 
whale, so named I suppose from his peculiar horn being 
originally mistaken for a peaked nose. The creature is 
some sixteen feet in length, while its horn averages five 
feet, though some exceed ten, and even attain to fifteen 
feet. Strictly speaking, this horn is but a lengthened 
tusk, growing out from the jaw in a line a little depressed 
from the horizontal. But it is only found on the sinister 
side, which has an ill effect, giving its owner something 
analogous to the aspect of a clumsy left-handed man. 
What precise purpose this ivory horn or lance answers, it 
would be hard to say. It does not seem to be used like 
the blade of the sword-fish and bill-fish ; though some 
sailors tell me that the Narwhale employs it for a rake 
in turning over the bottom of the sea for food. Charley 
Coffin said it was used for an ice-piercer ; for the Nar- 
whale, rising to the surface of the Polar Sea, and finding 
it sheeted with ice, thrusts his horn up, and so breaks 
through. But you cannot prove either of these surmises 
to be correct. My own opinion is, that however this one- 
sided horn may really be used by the Narwhale however 
that may be it would certainly be very convenient to 
him for a folder in reading pamphlets. The Narwhale 
I have heard called the Tusked whale, the Horned whale, 
and the Unicorn whale. He is certainly a curious 
example of the Unicornism to be found in almost every 
kingdom of animated nature. From certain cloistered 


old authors I have gathered that this same sea-unicorn's 
horn was in ancient days regarded as the great antidote 
against poison, and as such, preparations of it brought 
immense prices. It was also distilled to a volatile salts 
for fainting ladies, the same way that the horns of the 
male deer are manufactured into hartshorn. Originally 
it was in itself accounted an object of great curiosity. 
Black Letter tells me that Sir Martin Frobisher on his 
return from that voyage, when Queen Bess did gallantly 
wave her jewelled hand to him from a window of Green- 
wich Palace, as his bold ship sailed down the Thames ; 
' when Sir Martin returned from that voyage,' saith Black 
Letter, ' on bended knees he presented to her highness 
a prodigious long horn of the Narwhale, which for a long 
period after hung in the castle at Windsor.' An Irish 
author avers that the Earl of Leicester, on bended knees, 
did likewise present to her highness another horn, per- 
taining to a land-beast of the unicorn nature. 

The Narwhale has a very picturesque, leopard-like look, 
being of a milk-white ground colour, dotted with round 
and oblong spots of black. His oil is very superior, clear 
and fine ; but there is little of it, and he is seldom hunted. 
He is mostly found in the circumpolar seas. 

BOOK II. (Octavo), CHAPTER IV. (Killer). Of this 
whale little is precisely known to the Nantucketer, and 
nothing at all to the professed naturalist. From what I 
have seen of him at a distance, I should say that he was 
about the bigness of a grampus. He is very savage a 
sort of Feegee fish. He sometimes takes the great Folio 
whale by the lip, and hangs there like a leech, till the 
mighty brute is worried to death. The Killer is never 
hunted. I never heard what sort of oil he has. Excep- 
tion might be taken to the name bestowed upon this whale, 
on the ground of its indistinctness. For we are all killers, 
on land and on sea ; Bonapartes and Sharks included. 


BOOK II. (Octavo), CHAPTER V. (Thrasher). This 
gentleman is famous for his tail, which he uses for a 
ferule in thrashing his foes. He mounts the Folio 
whale's back, and as he swims, he works his passage by 
flogging him ; as some schoolmasters get along in the 
world by a similar process. Still less is known of the 
Thrasher than of the Killer. Both are outlaws, even in 
the lawless seas. 

Thus ends BOOK II. (Octavo), and begins BOOK III. 

DUODECIMOS. These include the smaller whales: 
I. the Huzza Porpoise ; II. the Algerine Porpoise ; III. 
the Mealy-mouthed Porpoise. 

To those who have not chanced specially to study the 
subject, it may possibly seem strange, that fishes not 
commonly exceeding four or five feet should be marshalled 
among WHALES a word which, in the popular sense, 
always conveys an idea of hugeness. But the creatures 
set down above as Duodecimos are infallibly whales, by 
the terms of my definition of what a whale is i.e. a 
spouting fish, with a horizontal tail. 

BOOK III. (Duodecimo), CHAPTER I. (Huzza Porpoise). 
This is the common porpoise found almost all over the 
globe. The name is of my own bestowal ; for there are 
more than one sort of porpoises, and something must be 
done to distinguish them. I call him thus, because he 
always swims in hilarious shoals, which upon the broad 
sea keep tossing themselves to heaven like caps in a 
Fourth-of-July crowd. Their appearance is generally 
hailed with delight by the mariner. Full of fine spirits, 
they invariably come from the breezy billows to windward. 
They are the lads that always live before the wind. They 
are accounted a lucky omen. If you yourself can with- 
stand three cheers at beholding these vivacious fish, then 
heaven help ye ; the spirit of godly gamesomeness is not 

VOL. I. M 


in ye. A well-fed, plump Huzza porpoise will yield you 
one good gallon of good oil. But the fine and delicate 
fluid extracted from his jaws is exceedingly valuable. 
It is in request among jewellers and watchmakers. Sailors 
put it on their hones. Porpoise meat is good eating, you 
know. It may never have occurred to you that a por- 
poise spouts. Indeed, his spout is so small that it is not 
very readily discernible. But the next time you have a 
chance, watch him ; and you will then see the great 
Sperm whale himself in miniature. 

BOOK III. (Duodecimo), CHAPTER II. (Algerine Por- 
poise). A pirate. Very savage. He is only found, I 
think, in the Pacific. He is somewhat larger than the 
Huzza porpoise, but much of the same general make. 
Provoke him, and he will buckle to a shark. I have 
lowered for him many times, but never yet saw him 

BOOK III. (Duodecimo), CHAPTER III. (Mealy-mouthed 
Porpoise). The largest kind of porpoise ; and only 
found in the Pacific, so far as it is known. The only 
English name, by which he has hitherto been designated, 
,is that of the fishers Right-whale porpoise, from the 
circumstance that he is chiefly found in the vicinity of 
that Folio. In shape, he differs in some degree from the 
Huzza porpoise, being of a less rotund and jolly girth ; 
indeed, he is of quite a neat and gentleman -like figure. 
He has no fins on his back (most other porpoises have), 
he has a lovely tail, and sentimental Indian eyes of a 
hazel hue. But his mealy-mouth spoils all. Though 
his entire back down to his side fins is of a deep sable, 
yet a boundary line, distinct as the mark in a ship's 
hull, called the ' bright waist/ that line streaks him from 
stem to stern, with two separate colours, black above and 
white below. The white comprises part of his head, and 
the whole of his mouth, which makes him look as if he 
had just escaped from a felonious visit to a meal -bag. 


A most mean and mealy aspect ! His oil is much like 

that of the common porpoise. 


Beyond the DUODECIMO, this system does not proceed, 
inasmuch as the porpoise is the smallest of the whales. 
Above, you have all the leviathans of note. But there 
are a rabble of uncertain, fugitive, half-fabulous whales, 
which, as an American whaleman, I know by reputation, 
but not personally. I shall enumerate them by their 
forecastle appellations ; for possibly such a list may be 
valuable to future investigators, who may complete what 
I have here but begun. If any of the following whales 
shall hereafter be caught and marked, then he can readily 
be incorporated into this system, according to his Folio, 
Octavo, or Duodecimo magnitude : The Bottle-nose 
Whale ; the Junk Whale ; the Pudding-headed Whale ; 
the Cape Whale ; the Leading Whale ; the Cannon 
Whale ; the Scragg Whale ; the Coppered Whale ; the 
Elephant Whale ; the Iceberg Whale ; the Quog Whale ; 
the Blue Whale, etc. From Icelandic, Dutch, and old 
English authorities, there might be quoted other lists of 
uncertain whales, blessed with all manner of uncouth 
names. But I omit them as altogether obsolete ; and 
can hardly help suspecting them for mere sounds, full of 
leviathanism, but signifying nothing. 

Finally : It was stated at the outset, that this system 
would not be here, and at once, perfected. You cannot 
but plainly see that I have kept my word. But I now 
leave my cetological system standing thus unfinished, even 
as the great Cathedral of Cologne was left, with the crane 
still standing upon the top of the uncompleted tower. 
For small erections may be finished by their first archi- 
tects ; grand ones, true ones, ever leave the cope-stone to 
posterity. God keep me from ever completing anything. 
This whole book is but a draught nay, but the draught 
of a draught. Oh, Time, Strength, Cash, and Patience ! 



CONCERNING the officers of the whale-craft, this seems 
as good a place as any to set down a little domestic 
peculiarity on shipboard, arising from the existence of 
the harpooneer class of officers, a class unknown of course 
in any other marine than the whale-fleet. 

The large importance attached to the harpooneer J s 
vocation is evinced by the fact, that originally in the old 
Dutch Fishery, two centuries and more ago, the command 
of a whale -ship was not wholly lodged in the person now 
called the captain, but was divided between him and an 
officer called the Specksynder. Literally this word 
means Fat -Cutter ; usage, however, in time made it 
equivalent to Chief Harpooneer. In those days, the 
captain's authority was restricted to the navigation and 
general management of the vessel : while over the whale- 
hunting department and all its concerns, the Specksynder 
or Chief Harpooneer reigned supreme. In the British 
Greenland Fishery, under the corrupted title of Speck- 
sioneer, this old Dutch official is still retained, but his 
former dignity is sadly abridged. At present he ranks 
simply as senior Harpooneer ; and as such, is but one of 
the captain's more inferior subalterns. Nevertheless, as 
upon the good conduct of the harpooneers the success of 
a whaling voyage largely depends, and since in the Ameri- 
can Fishery he is not only an important officer in the boat, 
but under certain circumstances (night-watches on a 
whaling -ground) the command of the ship's deck is also 



his ; therefore the grand political maxim of the sea 
demands, that he should nominally live apart from the 
men before the mast, and be in some way distinguished 
as their professional superior ; though always, by them, 
familiarly regarded as their social equal. 

Now, the grand distinction drawn between officer and 
man at sea is this the first lives aft, the last forward. 
Hence, in whale-ships and merchantmen alike, the mates 
have their quarters with the captain ; and so, too, in 
most of the American whalers the harpooneers are lodged 
in the after part of the ship. That is to say, they take 
their meals in the captain's cabin, and sleep in a place 
indirectly communicating with it. 

Though the long period of a Southern whaling voyage 
(by far the longest of all voyages now or ever made by 
man), the peculiar perils of it, and the community of 
interest prevailing among a company, all of whom, high 
or low, depend for their profits, not upon fixed wages, 
but upon their common luck, together with their common 
vigilance, intrepidity, and hard work ; though all these 
things do in some cases tend to beget a less rigorous 
discipline than in merchantmen generally ; yet, never 
mind how much like an old Mesopotamian family these 
whalemen may, in some primitive instances, live together ; 
for all that, the punctilious externals, at least, of the 
quarter-deck are seldom materially relaxed, and in no 
instance done away. Indeed, many are the Nantucket 
ships in which you will see the skipper parading his 
quarter-deck with an elated grandeur not surpassed in 
any military navy ; nay, extorting almost as much out- 
ward homage as if he wore the imperial purple, and not 
the shabbiest of pilot-cloth. 

And though of all men the moody captain of the Pequod 
was the least given to that sort of shallowest assumption ; 
and though the only homage he ever exacted was im- 


plicit, instantaneous obedience ; though he required no 
man to remove the shoes from his feet ere stepping upon 
the quarter-deck ; and though there were times when, 
owing to peculiar circumstances connected with events 
hereafter to be detailed, he addressed them in unusual 
terms, whether of condescension or in terrorem, or other- 
wise ; yet even Captain Ahab was by no means unob- 
servant of the paramount forms and usages of the sea. 

Nor, perhaps, will it fail to be eventually perceived, that 
behind those forms and usages, as it were, he sometimes 
masked himself ; incidentally making use of them for 
other and more private ends than they were legitimately 
intended to subserve. That certain sultanism of his 
brain, which had otherwise in a good degree remained 
unmanifested ; through those forms that same sultanism 
/became incarnate in an irresistible dictatorship. For be a 
man's intellectual superiority what it will, it can never 
assume the practical, available supremacy over other men, 
without the aid of some sort of external arts and entrench- 
ments, always, in themselves, more or less paltry and base. 
This it is, that forever keeps God's true princes of the 
Empire from the world's hustings ; and leaves the highest 
honours that this air can give, to those men who become 
famous more through their infinite inferiority to the choice 
hidden handful of the Divine Inert, than through their 
undoubted superiority over the dead level of the mass. 
Such large virtue lurks in these small things when extreme 
political superstitions invest them, that in some royal 
instances even to idiot imbecility they have imparted 
potency. But when, as in the case of Nicholas the Czar, 
the ringed crown of geographical empire encircles an 
imperial brain ; then, the plebeian herds crouch abased 
before the tremendous centralisation. Nor will the 
tragic dramatist who would depict mortal indomitable - 
ness in its fullest sweep and direct swing, ever forget a 


hint, incidentally so important in his art, as the one now 
alluded to. 

But Ahab, my captain, still moves before me in all 
his Nantucket grimness and shagginess ; and in this 
episode touching emperors and kings, I must not conceal 
that I have only to do with a poor old whale-hunter like 
him ; and, therefore, all outward majestical trappings 
and housings are denied me. Oh, Ahab ! what shall be 
grand in thee, it must needs be plucked at from the skies, 
and dived for in the deep, and featured in the unbodied 
air ! 



IT is noon ; and Dough-Boy, the steward, thrusting his 
pale loaf-of-bread face from the cabin-scuttle, announces 
dinner to his lord and master ; who, sitting in the lee 
quarter-boat, has just been taking an observation of the 
sun ; and is now mutely reckoning the latitude on the 
smooth, medallion-shaped tablet, reserved for that daily 
purpose on the upper part of his ivory leg. From his 
complete inattention to the tidings, you would think that 
moody Ahab had not heard his menial. But presently, 
catching hold of the mizen shrouds, he swings himself 
to the deck, and in an even, unexhilarated voice, saying, 
'Dinner, Mr. Starbuck,' disappears into the .cabin. 

When the last echo of his sultan's step has died away, 
and Starbuck, the first Emir, has every reason to suppose 
that he is seated, then Starbuck rouses from his quietude, 
takes a few turns along the planks, and, after a grave peep 
into the binnacle, says, with some touch of pleasantness, 
' Dinner, Mr. Stubb,' and descends the scuttle. The 
second Emir lounges about the rigging a while, and then 
slightly shaking the main-brace, to see whether it be 
all right with that important rope, he likewise takes up 
the old burden, and with a rapid * Dinner, Mr. Flask,' 
follows after his predecessors. 

But the third Emir, now seeing himself all alone on the 
quarter-deck, seems to feel relieved from some curious 
restraint ; for, tipping all sorts of knowing winks in all 
sorts of directions, and kicking off his shoes, he strikes 



into a sharp but noiseless squall of a hornpipe right over 
the Grand Turk's head ; and then, by a dexterous sleight, 
pitching his cap up into the mizen-top for a shelf, he goes 
down rollicking, so far at least as he remains visible from 
the deck, reversing all other processions by bringing up 
the rear with music. But ere stepping into the cabin 
doorway below, he pauses, ships a new face altogether, 
and then, independent, hilarious little Flask enters King 
Ahab's presence, in the character of Abjectus, or the 

It is not the least among the strange things bred by the 
intense artificialness of sea-usages, that while in the open 
air of the deck some officers will, upon provocation, bear 
themselves boldly and defyingly enough toward their com- 
mander ; yet, ten to one, let those very officers the next 
moment go down to their customary dinner in that same 
commander's cabin, and straightway their inoffensive, 
not to say deprecatory and humble air toward him, as 
he sits at the head of the table ; this is marvellous, some- 
times most comical. Wherefore this difference ? A 
problem ? Perhaps not. To have been Belshazzar, 
King of Babylon ; and to have been Belshazzar, not 
haughtily but courteously, therein certainly must have 
been some touch of mundane grandeur. But he who in 
the rightly regal and intelligent spirit presides over his 
own private dinner-table of invited guests, that man's 
unchallenged power and dominion of individual influ- 
ence for the time ; that man's royalty of state transcends 
Belshazzar 's, for Belshazzar was not the greatest. Who 
has but once dined his friends, has tasted what it is to be 
Caesar. It is a witchery of social czarship which there 
is no withstanding. Now, if to this consideration you 
superadd the official supremacy of a shipmaster, then, 
by inference, you will derive the cause of that peculiarity 
of sea-life just mentioned. 


Over his ivory-inlaid table, Ahab presided like a mute, 
maned sea-lion on the white coral beach, surrounded by 
his warlike but still deferential cubs. In his own proper 
turn, each officer waited to be served. They were as 
little children before Ahab ; and yet, in Ahab, there 
seemed not to lurk the smallest social arrogance. With 
one mind, their intent eyes all fastened upon the old man's 
knife, as he carved the chief dish before him. I do not 
suppose that for the world they would have profaned 
that moment with the slightest observation, even upon 
so neutral a topic as the weather. No ! And when 
reaching out his knife and fork, between which the slice 
of beef was locked, Ahab thereby motioned Starbuck's 
plate toward him, the mate received his meat as though 
receiving alms ; and cut it tenderly ; and a little started 
if, perchance, the knife grazed against the plate ; and 
chewed it noiselessly ; and swallowed it, not without 
circumspection. For, like the Coronation banquet at 
Frankfort, where the German Emperor profoundly dines 
with the seven Imperial Electors, so these cabin meals 
were somehow solemn meals, eaten in awful silence ; and 
yet at table old Ahab forbade not conversation ; only he 
himself was dumb. What a relief it was to choking Stubb, 
when a rat made a sudden racket in the hold below. And 
poor little Flask, he was the youngest son, and little boy 
of this weary family party. His were the shin-bones 
of the saline beef ; his would have been the drumsticks. 
For Flask to have presumed to help himself, this must 
have seemed to him tantamount to larceny in the first 
degree. Had he helped himself at that table, doubtless, 
never more would he have been able to hold his head up 
in this honest world ; nevertheless, strange to say, Ahab 
never forbade him. And had Flask helped himself, the 
chances were Ahab had never so much as noticed it. 
Least of all, did Flask presume to help himself to butter. 


Whether he thought the owners of the ship denied it to 
him, on account of its clotting his clear, sunny com- 
plexion ; or whether he deemed that, on so long a voyage 
in such marketless waters, butter was at a premium, and 
therefore was not for him, a subaltern ; however it was, 
Flask, alas ! was a butterless man ! 

Another thing. Flask was the last person down at the 
dinner, and Flask is the first man up. Consider ! For 
hereby Flask's dinner was badly jammed in point of time. 
Starbuck and Stubb both had the start of him ; and yet 
they also have the privilege of lounging in the rear. If 
Stubb even, who is but a peg higher than Flask, happens 
to have but a small appetite, and soon shows symptoms 
of concluding his repast, then Flask must bestir himself, 
he will not get more than three mouthfuls that day ; for 
it is against holy usage for Stubb to precede Flask to the 
deck. Therefore it was that Flask once admitted in 
private, that ever since he had arisen to the dignity of an 
officer, from that moment he had never known what it 
was to be otherwise than hungry, more or less. For 
what he ate did not so much relieve his hunger, as keep 
it immortal hi him. Peace and satisfaction, thought 
Flask, have forever departed from my stomach. I am 
an officer ; but, how I wish I could fist a bit of old- 
fashioned beef in the forecastle, as I used to when I was 
before the mast. There 's the fruits of promotion now ; 
there 's the vanity of glory : there 's the insanity of life ! 
Besides, if it were so that any mere sailor of the Pequod 
had a grudge against Flask in Flask's official capacity, all 
that sailor had to do, in order to obtain ample vengeance, 
was to go aft at dinner-time, and get a peep at Flask 
through the cabin skylight, sitting silly and dumfoundered 
before awful Ahab. 

Now, Ahab and his three mates formed what may be 
called the first table in the Pequod' s cabin. After their 


departure, taking place in inverted order to their arrival, 
the canvas cloth was cleared, or rather was restored to 
some hurried order by the pallid steward. And then the 
three harpooneers were bidden to the feast, they being 
its residuary legatees. They made a sort of temporary 
servants' hall of the high and mighty cabin. 

In strange contrast to the hardly tolerable constraint 
and nameless invisible domineerings of the captain's table, 
was the entire care -free licence and ease, the almost frantic 
democracy of those inferior fellows the harpooneers. 
While their masters, the mates, seemed afraid of the 
sound of the hinges of their own jaws, the harpooneers 
chewed their food with such a relish that there was a 
report to it. They dined like lords ; they filled their 
bellies like Indian ships all day loading with spices. 
Such portentous appetites had Queequeg and Tashtego, 
that to fill out the vacancies made by the previous repast, 
often the pale Dough-Boy was fain to bring on a great 
baron of salt-junk, seemingly quarried out of the solid 
ox. And if he were not lively about it, if he did not go 
with a nimble hop-skip-and-jump, then Tashtego had an 
ungeiitlemanly way of accelerating him by darting a fork 
at his back, harpoon- wise. And once Daggoo, seized 
with a sudden humour, assisted Dough-Boy's memory by 
snatching him up bodily, and thrusting his head into a 
great empty wooden trencher, while Tashtego, knife in 
hand, began laying out the circle preliminary to scalping 
him. He was naturally a very nervous, shuddering sort 
of little fellow, this broad-faced steward ; the progeny 
of a bankrupt baker and a hospital nurse. And what 
with the standing spectacle of the black terrific Ahab, 
and the periodical tumultuous visitations of these three 
savages, Dough-Boy's whole life was one continual lip- 
quiver. Commonly, after seeing the harpooneers fur- 
nished with all things they demanded, he would escape 


from their clutches into his little pantry adjoining, and 
fearfully peep out at them through the blinds of its door, 
till all was over. 

It was a sight to see Queequeg seated over against 
Tashtego, opposing his filed teeth to the Indian's : cross- 
wise to them, Daggoo seated on the floor, for a bench 
would have brought his hearse-plumed head to the low 
carlines ; at every motion of his colossal limbs, making 
the low cabin framework to shake, as when an African 
elephant goes passenger in a ship. But for all this, the 
great negro was wonderfully abstemious, not to say dainty. 
It seemed hardly possible that by such comparatively 
small mouthfuls he could keep up the vitality diffused 
through so broad, baronial, and superb a person. But, 
doubtless, this noble savage fed strong and drank deep 
of the abounding element of air ; and through his dilated 
nostrils snuffed in the sublime life of the worlds. Not by 
beef or by bread are giants made or nourished. But 
Queequeg, he had a mortal, barbaric smack of the lip in 
eating an ugly sound enough so much so, that the 
trembling Dough-Boy almost looked to see whether any 
marks of teeth lurked in his own lean arms. And when 
he would hear Tashtego singing out for him to produce 
himself, that his bones might be picked, the simple -witted 
steward all but shattered the crockery hanging round him 
in the pantry, by his sudden fits of the palsy. Nor did 
the whetstone which the harpooneers carried in their 
pockets, for their lances and other weapons ; and with 
which whetstones, at dinner, they would ostentatiously 
sharpen their knives ; that grating sound did not at all 
tend to tranquillise poor Dough-Boy. How could he 
forget that in his Island days, Queequeg, for one, must 
certainly have been guilty of some murderous, convivial 
indiscretions. Alas ! Dough-Boy ! hard fares the white 
waiter who waits upon cannibals. Not a napkin should 


he carry on his arm, but a buckler. In good time, 
though, to his great delight, the three salt-sea warriors 
would rise and depart ; to his credulous, fable-mongering 
ears, all their martial bones jingling in them at every step, 
like Moorish scimitars in scabbards. 

But, though these barbarians dined in the cabin, and 
nominally lived there ; still, being anything but seden- 
tary in their habits, they were scarcely ever in it except 
at meal-times, and just before sleeping-time, when they 
passed through it to their own peculiar quarters. 

In this one matter, Ahab seemed no exception to most 
American whale-captains, who, as a set, rather incline to 
the opinion that by rights the ship's cabin belongs to 
them ; and that it is by courtesy alone that anybody else 
is, at any time, permitted there. So that, in real truth, 
the mates and harpooneers of the Pequod might more 
properly be said to have lived out of the cabin than in 
it. For when they did enter it, it was something as a 
street-door enters a house ; turning inward for a moment, 
only to be turned out the next ; and, as a permanent 
thing, residing in the open air. Nor did they lose much 
hereby ; in the cabin was no companionship ; socially, 
Ahab was inaccessible. Though nominally included in 
the census of Christendom, he was still an alien to it. 
He lived in the world, as the last of the grizzly bears lived 
in settled Missouri. And as when spring and summer 
had departed, that wild Logan of the woods, burying 
himself in the hollow of a tree, lived out the winter there, 
sucking his own paws ; so, in his inclement, howling old 
age, Ahab's soul, shut up in the caved trunk of his body, 
there fed upon the sullen paws of its gloom ! 



IT was during the more pleasant weather, that in due 
rotation with the other seamen my first mast-head came 

In most American whalemen the mast-heads are 
manned almost simultaneously with the vessel's leaving 
her port - r even though she may have fifteen thousand 
miles, and more, to sail ere reaching her proper cruising- 
ground. And if, after a three, four, or five years' voyage 
she is drawing nigh home with anything empty in her 
say, an empty vial even then her mast-heads are kept 
manned to the last ; and not till her skysail-poles sail 
in among the spires of the port, does she altogether relin- 
quish the hope of capturing one whale more. 

Now, as the business of standing mast-heads, ashore or 
afloat, is a very ancient and interesting one, let us in some 
measure expatiate here. I take it, that the earliest 
standers of mast-heads were the old Egyptians ; because, 
in all my researches, I find none prior to them. For 
though their progenitors, the builders of Babel, must 
doubtless, by their tower, have intended to rear the 
loftiest mast-head in all Asia, or Africa either ; yet (ere 
the final truck was put to it) as that great stone mast of 
theirs may be said to have gone by the board, in the dread 
gale of God's wrath ; therefore, we cannot give these 
Babel builders priority over the Egyptians. And that 
the Egyptians were a nation of mast-head standers is 
an assertion based upon the general belief among archseo- 



legists, that the first pyramids were founded for astro- 
nomical purposes : a theory singularly supported by the 
peculiar stair-like formation of all four sides of those 
edifices ; whereby, with prodigious long upliftings of their 
legs, those old astronomers were wont to mount to the 
apex, and sing out for new stars ; even as the look-outs 
of a modern ship sing out for a sail, or a whale just bearing 
in sight. In Saint Stylites, the famous Christian hermit 
of old times, who built him a lofty stone pillar in the 
desert and spent the whole latter portion of his life on its 
summit, hoisting his food from the ground with a tackle ; 
in him we have a remarkable instance of a dauntless 
stander of mast-heads ; who was not to be driven from 
his place by fogs or frosts, rain, hail, or sleet ; but vali- 
antly facing everything out to the last, literally died at 
his post. Of modern standers of mast-heads we have 
but a lifeless set ; mere stone, iron, and bronze men ; who, 
though well capable of facing out a stiff gale, are still 
entirely incompetent to the business of singing out upon 
discovering any strange sight. There is Napoleon ; who, 
upon the top of the column of Vendome, stands with arms 
folded, some one hundred and fifty feet in the air ; care- 
less, now, who rules the decks below ; whether Louis- 
Philippe, Louis Blanc, or Louis the Devil. Great 
Washington, too, stands high aloft on his towering main- 
mast in Baltimore, and like one of Hercules' pillars, his 
column marks that point of human grandeur beyond which 
few mortals will go. Admiral Nelson, also, on a capstan 
of gun-metal, stands his mast-head in Trafalgar Square ; 
and ever when most obscured by that London smoke, 
token is yet given that a hidden hero is there ; for where 
there is smoke, must be fire. But neither great Washing- 
ton, nor Napoleon, nor Nelson, will answer a single hail 
from below, however madly invoked to befriend by their 
counsels the distracted decks upon which they gaze ; 


however it' may be surmised, that their spirits penetrate 
through the thick haze of the future, and descry what 
shoals and what rocks must be shunned. 

It may seem unwarrantable to couple in any respect 
the mast-head standers of the land with those of the sea ; 
but that in truth it is not so, is plainly evinced by an item 
for which Obed Macy, the sole historian of Nantucket, 
stands accountable. The worthy Obed tells us, that in 
the early times of the whale-fishery, ere ships were regu- 
larly launched in pursuit of the game, the people of that 
island erected lofty spars along the sea-coast, to which 
the look-outs ascended by means of nailed cleats, some- 
thing as fowls go upstairs in a hen-house. A few years 
ago this same plan was adopted by the Bay whalemen of 
New Zealand, who, upon descrying the game, gave notice 
to the ready-manned boats nigh the beach. But this 
custom has now become obsolete ; turn we then to the 
one proper mast-head, that of a whale-ship at sea. The 
three mast-heads are kept manned from sunrise to sunset ; 
the seamen taking their regular turns (as at the helm), 
and relieving each other every two hours. In the serene 
weather of the Tropics it is exceedingly pleasant the mast- 
head ; nay, to a dreamy meditative man it is delightful. 
There you stand, a hundred feet above the silent decks, 
; striding along the deep, as if the masts were gigantic 
; stilts, while beneath you and between your legs, as it 
were, swim the hugest monsters of the sea, even as ships 
once sailed between the boots of the famous Colossus at 
old Rhodes. There you stand, lost in the infinite series 
of the sea, with nothing ruffled but the waves. The 
tranced ship indolently rolls ; the drowsy trade winds 
;blow ; everything resolves you into languor. For the 
most part, in this tropic whaling life, a sublime unevent- 
Mness invests you ; you hear no news ; read no gazettes ; 
;)xtras with startling accounts of commonplaces never 
VOL. i. N 


delude you into unnecessary excitements ; you hear of 
no domestic afflictions ; bankrupt securities ; fall of 
stocks ; are never troubled with the thought of what you 
shall have for dinner for all your meals for three years 
and more are snugly stowed in casks, and your bill of fare 
is immutable. 

In one of those Southern whalemen, on a long three or 
four years' voyage, as often happens, the sum of the various 
hours you spend at the mast-head would amount to several 
entire months. And it is much to be deplored that the 
place to which you devote so considerable a portion of 
the whole term of your natural life, should be so sadly 
destitute of anything approaching to a cosy inhabitive- 
ness, or adapted to breed a comfortable localness of feel- 
ing, such as pertains to a bed, a hammock, a hearse, a 
sentry-box, a pulpit, a coach, or any other of those small 
and snug contrivances in which men temporarily isolate 
themselves. Your most usual point of perch is the head 
of the t '-gallant-mast, where you stand upon two thin 
parallel sticks (almost peculiar to whalemen) called the 
t '-gallant-cross-trees. Here, tossed about by the sea, the 
beginner feels about as cosy as he would standing on a 
bull's horns. To be sure, in cold weather you may carry 
your house aloft with you, in the shape of a watch-coat ; 
but properly speaking the thickest watch-coat is no more 
of a house than the unclad body ; for as the soul is glued 
inside of its fleshly tabernacle, and cannot freely move 
about in it, nor even move out of it, without running great 
risk of perishing (like an ignorant pilgrim crossing the 
snowy Alps in winter) ; so a watch-coat is not so much 
of a house as it is a mere envelope, or additional skin 
encasing you. You cannot put a shelf or chest of drawers i 
in your body, and no more can you make a convenient 
closet of your watch-coat. 

Concerning all this, it is much to be deplored that the 


mast-heads of a Southern whale -ship are unprovided 
with those enviable little tents or pulpits, called crow's- 
nests, in which the look-outs of a Greenland whaler are 
protected from the inclement weather of the frozen seas. 
In the fireside narrative of Captain Sleet, entitled A 
Voyage among the Icebergs, in quest of the Greenland Whale, 
and incidentally for the re-discovery of the Lost Icelandic 
Colonies of Old Greenland ; in this admirable volume, all 
standers of mast-heads are furnished with a charmingly 
circumstantial account of the then recently invented 
crow's-nest of the Glacier, which was the name of Captain 
Sleet's good craft. He called it the Sleet's crow's-nest, in 
honour of himself ; he being the original inventor and 
patentee, and free from all ridiculous false delicacy, and 
holding that if we call our own children after our own 
names (we fathers being the original inventors and 
patentees), so likewise should we denominate after our- 
selves any other apparatus we may beget. In shape, 
the Sleet's crow's-nest is something like a large tierce or 
pipe ; it is open above, however, where it is furnished 
with a movable side -screen to keep to windward of your 
head in a hard gale. Being fixed on the summit of the 
mast, you ascend into it through a little trap-hatch in 
the bottom. On the after side, or side next the stern of 
the ship, is a comfortable seat, with a locker underneath 
for umbrellas, comforters, and coats. In front is a 
leather rack, hi which to keep your speaking trumpet, 
pipe, telescope, and other nautical conveniences. When 
Captain Sleet in person stood his mast-head hi this crow's- 
nest of his, he tells us that he always had a rifle with him 
(also fixed in the rack), together with a powder-flask and 
shot, for the purpose of popping off the stray narwhales, 
or vagrant sea-unicorns infesting those waters ; for you 
cannot successfully shoot at them from the deck owing to 
the resistance of the water, but to shoot down upon them 


is a very different thing. Now, it was plainly a labour 
of love for Captain Sleet to describe, as he does, all the 
little detailed conveniences of his crow's-nest ; but though 
he so enlarges upon many of these, and though he treats 
us to a very scientific account of his experiments in this 
crow's-nest, with a small compass he kept there for the 
purpose of counteracting the errors resulting from what 
is called the ' local attraction ' of all binnacle magnets ; 
an error ascribable to the horizontal vicinity of the iron 
in the ship's planks, and in the Glacier's case, perhaps, to 
there having been so many broken-down blacksmiths 
among her crew ; I say, that though the captain is very 
discreet and scientific here, yet, for all his learned ' bin- 
nacle deviations,' ' azimuth compass observations,' and 
' approximate errors,' he knows very well, Captain Sleet, 
that he was not so much immersed in those profound 
magnetic meditations, as to fail being attracted occasion- 
ally toward that well-replenished little case-bottle, so 
nicely tucked in on one side of his crow's-nest, within 
easy reach of his hand. Though, upon the whole, I 
greatly admire and even love the brave, the honest, and 
learned captain ; yet I take it very ill of him that he 
should so utterly ignore that case-bottle, seeing what a 
faithful friend and comforter it must have been, while 
with mittened fingers and hooded head he was studying 
the mathematics aloft there in that bird's nest within 
three or four perches of the pole. 

But if we Southern whale -fishers are not so snugly 
housed aloft as Captain Sleet and his Greenland men 
were ; yet that disadvantage is greatly counterbalanced 
by the widely contrasting serenity of those seductive 
seas in which we South fishers mostly float. For one, I 
used to lounge up the rigging very leisurely, resting hi 
the top to have a chat with Queequeg, or anyone else off 
duty whom I might find there ; then ascending a littl 


way further, and throwing a lazy leg over the topsail- 
yard, take a preliminary view of the watery pastures, 
and so at last mount to my ultimate destination. 

Let me make a clean breast of it here, and frankly 
admit that I kept but sorry guard. With the problem 
of the universe revolving in me, how could I being left 
completely to myself at such a thought-engendering alti- 
tude, how could I but lightly hold my obligations to 
observe all whale -ships' standing orders, ' Keep your 
weather-eye open, and sing out every time ' ? 

And let me in this place movingly admonish you, ye 
shipowners of Nantucket ! Beware of enlisting in your 
vigilant fisheries any lad with lean brow and hollow eye ; 
given to unseasonable meditativeness ; and who offers 
to ship with the Phsedon instead of Bowditch in his head. 
Beware of such an one, I say : your whales must be seen 
before they can be killed ; and this sunken-eyed young 
Platonist will tow you ten wakes round the world, and 
never make you one pint of sperm the richer. Nor are 
these monitions at all unneeded. For nowadays, the 
whale-fishery furnishes an asylum for many romantic, 
melancholy, and absent-minded young men, disgusted 
with the carking cares of earth, and seeking sentiment in 
tar and blubber. Childe Harold not unfrequently perches 
himself upon the mast-head of some luckless disappointed 
whale-ship, and in moody phrase ejaculates : 

1 Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean, roll ! 
Ten thousand blubber-hunters sweep over thee in vain.' 

Very often do the captains of such ships take those 
absent-minded young philosophers to task, upbraiding 
them with not feeling sufficient ' interest ' in the voyage ; 
half -hinting that they are so hopelessly lost to all honour- 
able ambition, as that in their secret souls they would 
rather not see whales than otherwise. But all in vain ; 


those young Platonists have a notion that their vision 
is imperfect ; they are short-sighted ; what use, then, to 
strain the visual nerve ? They have left their opera- 
glasses at home. 

' Why, thou monkey, ' said a harpooneer to one of these 
lads, ' we 've been cruising now hard upon three years, 
and thou hast not raised a whale yet. Whales are scarce 
as hen's teeth whenever thou art up here.' Perhaps they 
were ; or perhaps there might have been shoals of them 
in the far horizon ; but lulled into such an opium-like 
listlessness of vacant, unconscious revery is this absent- 
minded youth by the blending cadence of waves with 
thoughts, that at last he loses his identity ; takes the 
mystic ocean at his feet for the visible image of that deep, 
blue, bottomless soul, pervading mankind and nature ; 
and every strange, half -seen, gliding, beautiful thing that 
eludes him ; every dimly discovered, uprising fin of some 
undiscernible form, seems to him the embodiment of 
those elusive thoughts that only people the soul by con- 
tinually flitting through it. In this enchanted mood, 
thy spirit ebbs away to whence it came ; becomes diffused 
through time and space ; like Cranmer's sprinkled Pan- 
theistic ashes, forming at last a part of every shore the 
round globe over. 

There is no life in thee, now, except that rocking life 
imparted by a gently rolling ship ; by her, borrowed from 
the sea ; by the sea, from the inscrutable tides of God. 
But while this sleep, this dream is on ye, move your foot 
or hand an inch ; slip your hold at all ; and your identity 
comes back in horror. Over Descartian vortices you 
hover. And perhaps, at mid-day, in the fairest weather, 
with one half-throttled shriek you drop through that 
transparent air into the summer sea, no more to rise for- 
ever. Heed it well, ye Pantheists ! 



(Enter Ahab : Then all.) 

IT was not a great while after the affair of the pipe, that 
one morning shortly after breakfast, Ahab, as was his 
wont, ascended the cabin-gangway to the deck. There 
most sea-captains usually walk at that hour, as country 
gentlemen, after the same meal, take a few turns in 
the garden. 

Soon his steady, ivory stride was heard, as to and fro 
he paced his old rounds, upon planks so familiar to his 
tread, that they were all over dented, like geological 
stones, with the peculiar mark of his walk. Did you 
fixedly gaze, too, upon that ribbed and dented brow ; 
there also, you would see still stranger footprints the 
footprints of his one unsleeping, ever-pacing thought. 

But on the occasion hi question, those dents looked 
deeper, even as his nervous step that morning left a 
deeper mark. And, so full of his thought was Ahab, that 
at every uniform turn that he made, now at the main- 
mast and now at the binnacle, you could almost see 
that thought turn in him as he turned, and pace in him 
as he paced ; so completely possessing him, indeed, 
that it all but seemed the inward mould of every outer 

' D' ye mark him, Flask ? ' whispered Stubb ; * the 
chick that 's in him pecks the shell. 'Twill soon be out.' 

The hours wore on ; Ahab now shut up within his 



cabin ; anon, pacing the deck, with the same intense 
bigotry of purpose in his aspect. 

It drew near the close of day. Suddenly he came to a 
halt by the bulwarks, and inserting his bone leg into the 
auger-hole there, and with one hand grasping a shroud, 
he ordered Starbuck to send everybody aft. 

' Sir ! ' said the mate, astonished at an order seldom 
or never given on shipboard except in some extraordinary 

' Send everybody aft,' repeated Ahab. ' Mast-heads, 
there ! come down ! ' 

When the entire ship's company were assembled, and 
with curious and not wholly unapprehensive faces were 
eyeing him, for he looked not unlike the weather horizon 
when a storm is coming up, Ahab, after rapidly glancing 
over the bulwarks, and then darting his eyes among the 
crew, started from his standpoint ; and as though not a 
soul were nigh him resumed his heavy turns upon the 
deck. With bent head and half-slouched hat he con- 
tinued to pace, unmindful of the wondering whispering 
among the men ; till Stubb cautiously whispered to 
Flask, that Ahab must have summoned them there for 
the purpose of witnessing a pedestrian feat. But this 
did not last long. Vehemently pausing, he cried : 

' What do ye do when ye see a whale, men ? ' 

' Sing out for him ! ' was the impulsive rejoinder from 
a score of clubbed voices. 

4 Good ! ' cried Ahab, with a wild approval in his tones ; 
observing the hearty animation into which his unexpected 
question had so magnetically thrown them. 

' And what do ye next, men ? ' 

' Lower away, and after him ! ' 

' And what tune is it ye pull to, men ? ' 

' A dead whale or a stove boat ! ' 

More and more strangely and fiercely glad and approv- 


ing grew the countenance of the old man at every 
shout ; while the mariners began to gaze curiously at 
each other, as if marvelling how it was that they them- 
selves became so excited at such seemingly purposeless 

But, they were all eagerness again, as Ahab, now half- 
revolving in his pivot -hole, with one hand reaching high 
up a shroud, and tightly, almost convulsively grasping 
it, addressed them thus : 

' All ye mast-headers have before now heard me give 
orders about a white whale. Look ye ! d' ye see this 
Spanish ounce of gold*? ' holding up a broad bright 
coin to the sun ' it is a sixteen-dollar piece, men. D' ye 
see it ? Mr. Starbuck, hand me yon top-maul/ 

While the mate was getting the hammer, Ahab, without 
speaking, was slowly rubbing the gold piece against the 
skirts of his jacket, as if to heighten its lustre, and without 
using any words was meanwhile lowly humming to him- 
self, producing a sound so strangely muffled and inarticu- 
late that it seemed the mechanical humming of the wheels 
of his vitality in him. 

Receiving the top-maul from Starbuck, he advanced 
toward the mainmast with the hammer uplifted in one 
hand, exhibiting the gold with the other, and with a high 
raised voice exclaiming : ' Whosoever of ye raises me a 
white-headed whale with a wrinkled brow and a crooked 
jaw ; whosoever of ye raises me that white-headed whale, 
with three holes punctured in his starboard fluke look 
ye, whosoever of ye raises me that same white whale, 
he shall have this gold ounce, my boys ! ' 

' Huzza ! huzza ! ' cried the seamen, as with swinging 
tarpaulins they hailed the act of nailing the gold to 
the mast. 

' It 's a white whale, I say,' resumed Ahab, as he threw 
down the top-maul ; * a white whale. Skin your eyes 


for him, men ; look sharp for white water ; if ye see but 
a bubble, sing out.' 

All this while Tashtego, Daggoo, and Queequeg had 
looked on with even more intense interest and surprise 
than the rest, and at the mention of the wrinkled brow 
and crooked jaw they had started as if each was separately 
touched by some specific recollection. 

' Captain Ahab,' said Tashtego, ' that white whale must 
be the same that some call Moby-Dick.' 

' Moby-Dick ? ' shouted Ahab. ' Do ye know the white 
whale then, Tash ? ' 

' Does he fan-tail a little curious, sir, before he goes 
down ? ' said the Gay-Header deliberately. 

' And has he a curious spout, too,' said Daggoo, ' very 
bushy, even for a parmacetty, and mighty quick, Captain 
Ahab ? ' 

1 And he have one, two, tree oh ! good many iron 
in him hide, too, captain,' cried Queequeg disjointedly, 

4 all twiske-tee be-twisk, like him him ' faltering 

hard for a word, and screwing his hand round and round 
as though uncorking a bottle ' like him him ' 

' Cork-screw ! ' cried Ahab, ' ay, Queequeg, the har- 
poons lie all twisted and wrenched in him ; ay, Daggoo, 
his spout is a big one, like a whole shock of wheat, and 
white as a pile of our Nantucket wool after the great 
annual sheep-shearing ; ay, Tashtego, and he fan-tails 
like a split jib in a squall. Death and devils ! men, it is 
Moby-Dick ye have seen Moby-Dick Moby-Dick ! ' 

' Captain Ahab,' said Starbuck, who, with Stubb and 
Flask, had thus far been eyeing his superior with increasing 
surprise, but at last seemed struck with a thought which 
somewhat explained all the wonder. ' Captain Ahab, 
I have heard of Moby-Dick but it was not Moby-Dick 
that took off thy leg ? ' 

' Who told thee that ? ' cried Ahab ; then pausing, 


' Ay, Starbuck ; ay, my hearties all round ; it was 
Moby-Dick that dismasted me ; Moby-Dick that brought 
me to this dead stump I stand on now. Ay, ay,' he 
shouted, with a terrific, loud, animal sob, like that of a 
heart -stricken moose ; ' Ay, ay ! it was that accursed 
white whale that razeed me ; made a poor pegging lubber 
of me for ever and a day ! ' Then tossing both arms, 
with measureless imprecations he shouted out : ' Ay, 
ay ! and I '11 chase him round Good Hope, and round 
the Horn, and round the Norway Maelstrom, and round 
perdition's flames before I give him up. And this is what 
ye have shipped for, men ! to chase that white whale on 
both sides of land, and over all sides of earth, till he spouts 
black blood and rolls fin out. What say ye, men, will ye 
splice hands on it, now ? I think ye do look brave/ 

* Ay, ay ! ' shouted the harpooneers and seamen, 
running closer to the excited old man : ' a sharp eye for 
the White Whale ; a sharp lance for Moby-Dick ! ' 

' God bless ye,' he seemed to half sob and half shout. 
' God bless ye, men. Steward ! go draw the great 
measure of grog. But what 's this long face about, Mr. 
Starbuck ; wilt thou not chase the White Whale ? art not 
game for Moby-Dick ? ' 

' I am game for his crooked jaw, and for the jaws of 
Death too, Captain Ahab, if it fairly comes in the way of 
the business we follow ; but I came here to hunt whales, 
not my commander's vengeance. How many barrels 
will thy vengeance yield thee even if thou gettest it, 
Captain Ahab ? it will not fetch thee much in our Nan- 
tucket market.' 

' Nantucket market ! Hoot ! But come closer, Star- 
buck ; thou requirest a little lower layer. If money 's 
to be the measurer, man, and the accountants have com- 
puted their great counting-house the globe, by girdling 
it with guineas, one to every three parts of an inch ; then, 


let me tell thee, that my vengeance will fetch a great 
premium here ! ' 

' He smites his chest/ whispered Stubb, ' what 's that 
for ? methinks it rings most vast, but hollow.' 

' Vengeance on a dumb brute ! ' cried Starbuck, ' that 
simply smote thee from blindest instinct ! Madness ! 
To be enraged with a dumb thing, Captain Ahab, seems 
\ blapkemous.' 

' Hark ye yet again, the little lower layer. All visible 
objects, man, are but as pasteboard masks. But in each 
event in the living act, the undoubted deed there, some 
unknown but still reasoning thing puts forth the mouldings 
of its features from behind the unreasoning mask. If man 
will strike, strike through the mask ! How can the prisoner 
reach outside except by thrusting through the wall ? To 
me, the White Whale is that wall, shoved near to me. 
Sometimes I think there 's naught beyond. But 'tis 
enough. He tasks me ; he heaps me ; I see in him out- 
rageous strength, with an inscrutable malice sinewing it. 
That inscrutable thing is chiefly what I hate ; and be the 
White Whale agent, or be the White Whale principal, I will 
wreak that hate upon him. Talk not to me of blasphemy, 
man ; I 'd strike the sun if it insulted me. For could the 
sun do that, then could I do the other ; since there is ever 
a sort of fair play herein, jealousy presiding over all 
creations. But not my master, man, is even that fair 
play. Who 's over me ? Truth hath no confines. Take 
off thine eye ! more intolerable than fiends' glarings is a 
doltish stare ! So, so ; thou reddenest and palest ; my 
heat has melted thee to anger-glow. But look ye, Star- 
buck, what is said in heat, that thing unsays itself. There 
are men from whom warm words are small indignity. I 
meant not to incense thee. Let it go. Look ! see yonder 
Turkish cheeks of spotted tawn living, breathing pictures 
painted by the sun. The pagan leopards the unrecking 


and un worshipping things, that live ; and seek, and give 
no reasons for the torrid life they feel ! The crew, man, 
the crew ! Are they not one and all with Ahab, in this 
matter of the whale ? See Stubb ! he laughs ! See 
yonder Chilian ! he snorts to think of it. Stand up amid 
the general hurricane, thy one tost sapling cannot, Star- 
buck ! And what is it ? Reckon it. 'Tis but to help 
strike a fin ; no wondrous feat for Starbuck. What is it 
more ? From this one poor hunt, then, the best lance 
out of all Nantucket, surely he will not hang back, when 
every foremast -hand has clutched a whetstone ? Ah ! 
constrainings seize thee ; I see ! the billow lifts thee ! 
Speak, but speak ! Ay, ay ! thy silence, then, that 
voices thee. (Aside) Something shot from my dilated 
nostrils, he has inhaled it in his lungs. Starbuck now is 
mine ; cannot oppose me now, without rebellion.' 

4 God keep me ! keep us all ! ' murmured Starbuck 

But in his joy at the enchanted, tacit acquiescence of the 
mate, Ahab did not hear his foreboding invocation ; nor 
yet the low laugh from the hold ; nor yet the presaging 
vibrations of the winds in the cordage ; nor yet the hollow 
flap of the sails against the masts, as for a moment their 
hearts sank in. For again Starbuck's downcast eyes 
lighted up with the stubbornness of life ; the subterranean 
laugh died away ; the winds blew on ; the sails filled out ; 
the ship heaved and rolled as before. Ah, ye admoni- 
tions and warnings ! why stay ye not when ye come ? 
But rather are ye predictions than warnings, ye shadows ! 
Yet not so much predictions from without, as verifications 
of the foregoing things within. For with little external 
to constrain us, the innermost necessities in our being, 
these still drive us on. 

' The measure ! the measure ! ' cried Ahab. 

Receiving the brimming pewter, and turning to the 


harpooneers, he ordered them to produce their weapons. 
Then ranging them before him near the capstan, with 
their harpoons in their hands, while his three mates stood 
at his side with their lances, and the rest of the ship's 
company formed a circle round the group ; he stood for 
an instant searchingly eyeing every man of his crew. 
But those wild eyes met his, as the bloodshot eyes of the 
prairie wolves meet the eye of their leader, ere he rushes 
on at their head in the trail of the bison ; but, alas ! only 
to fall into the hidden snare of the Indian. 

* Drink and pass ! ' he cried, handing the heavy charged 

flagon to the nearest seaman. ' The crew alone now 

drink. Round with it, round ! Short draughts long 

swallows, men ; 'tis hot as Satan's hoof. So, so ; it goes 

round excellently. It spiralises in ye ; forks out at the 

serpent -snapping eye. Well done ; almost drained. 

That way it went, this way it comes. Hand it me 

j here 's a hollow ! Men, ye seem the years ; so brimming 

! life is gulped and gone. Steward, refill ! 

' Attend now, my braves. I have mustered ye all 
round this capstan ; and ye, mates, flank me with your 
lances ; and ye, harpooneers, stand there with your irons ; 
and ye, stout mariners, ring me in, that I may in some 
sort revive a noble custom of my fisherman fathers before 

me. men, you will yet see that Ha ! boy, come 

back ? bad pennies come not sooner. Hand it me. Why, 
now, this pewter had run brimming again, wert not thou 
St. Vitus' imp away, thou ague ! 

' Advance, ye mates ! Cross your lances full before me. 
Well done ! Let me touch the axis.' So saying, with 
extended arm, he grasped the three level, radiating lances 
at their crossed centre ; while so doing, suddenly and 
nervously twitched them ; meanwhile, glancing intently 
from Starbuck to Stubb, from Stubb to Flask. It 
seemed as though, by some nameless, interior volition, 


he would fain have shocked into them the same fiery 
emotion accumulated within the Leyden jar of his own 
magnetic life. The three mates quailed before his strong, 
sustained, and mystic aspect. Stubb and Flask looked 
sideways from him ; the honest eye of Starbuck fell 

' In vain ! ' cried Ahab ; ' but, maybe, 'tis well. For 
did ye three but once take the full-forced shock, then 
mine own electric thing, that had perhaps expired from 
out me. Perchance, too, it would have dropped ye dead. 
Perchance ye need it not. Down lances ! And now, ye 
mates, I do appoint ye three cup-bearers to my three 
pagan kinsmen there yon three most honourable gentle- 
men and noblemen, my valiant harpooneers. Disdain 
the task ? What, when the great Pope washes the feet 
of beggars, using his tiara for ewer ? Oh, my sweet 
cardinals ! your own condescension, that shall bend ye 
to it. I do not order ye ; ye will it. Cut your seizings 
and draw the poles, ye harpooneers ! ' 

Silently obeying the order, the three harpooneers now 
stood with the detached iron part of their harpoons, some 
three feet long, held, barbs up, before him. 

' Stab me not with that keen steel ! Cant them ; 
cant them over ! know ye not the goblet end ? Turn 
up the socket ! So, so ; now, ye cup-bearers, advance. 
The irons ! take them ; hold them while I fill ! ' Forth- 
with, slowly going from one officer to the other, he 
brimmed the harpoon sockets with the fiery waters from 
the pewter. 

' Now, three to three, ye stand. Commend the murder- 
ous chalices ! Bestow them, ye who are now made 
parties to this indissoluble league. Ha ! Starbuck ! but 
the deed is done ! Yon ratifying sun now waits to sit 
upon it. Drink, ye harpooneers ! drink and swear, ye 
men that man the deathful whale-boat's bow Death to 1 


Moby-Dick ! God hunt us all, if we do not hunt Moby- 
Dick to his death ! ' The long, barbed steel goblets were 
lifted ; and to cries and maledictions against the White 
Whale, the spirits were simultaneously quaffed down with 
a hiss. Starbuck paled, and turned, and shivered. Once 
more, and finally, the replenished pewter went the rounds 
among the frantic crew ; when, waving his free hand to 
them, they all dispersed ; and Ahab retired within his 



(The cabin ; by the stern windows ; Ahab sitting alone, 
and gazing out.) 

I LEAVE a white and turbid wake ; pale waters, paler 
cheeks, where'er I sail. The envious billows sidelong swell 
to whelm my track ; let them ; but first I pass. 

Yonder, by the ever-brimming goblet's rim, the warm 
waves blush like wine. The gold brow plumbs the blue. 
The diver sun slow dived from noon, goes down ; my 
soul mounts up ! she wearies with her endless hill. Is, 
then, the crown too heavy that I wear ? this Iron Crown 
of Lombardy. Yet is it bright with many a gem ; I, the 
wearer, see not its far flashings ; but darkly feel that I 
wear that, that dazzlingly confounds. 'Tis iron that 
I know not gold. 'Tis split, too that I feel ; the 
jagged edge galls me so, my brain seems to beat against 
the solid metal ; ay, steel skull, mine ; the sort that 
needs no helmet in the most brain-battering fight ! 

Dry heat upon my brow ? Oh ! time was, when as 
the sunrise nobly spurred me, so the sunset soothed. No 
more. This lovely light, it lights not me ; all loveliness 
is anguish to me, since I can ne'er enjoy. Gifted with the 

high perception, I lack the low, enjoying power ; damned, 
most subtly ana most malignantly ! damned in the midst , 
of Paradise ! Good night good night ! (Waving his ' 
hand, he moves from the window.) 

'Twas not so hard a task. I thought to find one stub- 

VOL. I. O 


born, at the least ; but my one cogged circle fits into all 
their various wheels, and they revolve. Or, if you will, 
like so many ant-hills of powder, they all stand before me ; 
and I their match. Oh, hard ! that to fire others, the 
match itself must needs be wasting ! What I Ve dared, 
I Ve willed ; and what I Ve willed, I '11 do ! They think 
me mad Starbuck does ; but I 'm demoniac, I am mad- 
ness maddened ! That wild madness that 's only calm 
to comprehend itself ! The prophecy was that I should 
be dismembered ; and Ay ! I lost this leg. I now 
prophesy that I will dismember my dismemberer. JJow* 
then, be the prophet and the fulfiUer one. That 's more 
than ye, ye great gods, ever were. I laugh and hoot at 
ye, ye cricket -players, ye pugilists, ye deaf Burkes and 
blinded Bendigoes ! I will not say as schoolboys do to 
bullies, Take some one of your own size ; don't pommel 
me \ No, ye Ve knocked me down, and I am up again ; 
but ye have run and hidden. Come forth from behind 
your cotton bags ! I have no long gun to reach ye. 
Come, Ahab's compliments to ye ; come and see if ye can 
swerve me. Swerve me ? ye cannot swerve me, else ye 
swerve yourselves ! man has ye there. Swerve me ? 
The path to my fixed purpose is laid with iron rails, where - 
on" my soul is grooved to run. Over unsounded gorges, 
through the rifled hearts of mountains, under torrents' 
beds, unerringly I rush ! Naught J s an obstacle, naught 's 
an angle to the iron way ! 



(By the mainmast ; Starbuck leaning against it.) 

MY soul is* more than matched ; she 's overmanned ; 
and by a madman ! Insufferable sting, that sanity should 
ground arms on such a field ! But he drilled deep down, 
and blasted all my reason out of me ! I think I see his 
impious end ; but feel that I must help him to it. Will I, 
nill I, the ineffable thing has tied me to him ; tows me 
with a cable I have no knife to cut. Horrible old man ! 
Who 's over him, he cries ; ay, he would be a democrat \^ 
to all above ; look, how he lords it over all below ! Oh ! 
I plainly see my miserable office, to obey, rebelling ; and 
worse yet, to hate with touch of pity ! For in his eyes I 
read some lurid woe would shrivel me up, had I it. Yet 
is there hope. Time and tide flow wide. The hated 
whale has the round watery world to swim in, as the small 
gold-fish has its glassy globe. His heaven-insulting pur- 
pose, God may wedge aside. I would up heart, were it 
not like lead. But my whole clock 's run down ; my 
heart the all-controlling weight, I have no key to lift 

(A burst of revelry from the forecastle.) 

Oh, God ! to sail with such a heathen crew that have 
small touch of human mothers in them ! Whelped some- 
where by the sharkish sea. The White Whale is their 
demigorgon. Hark ! the infernal orgies ! that revelry 
is forward ! mark the unfaltering silence aft ! Methinks 




it pictures life. Foremost through the sparkling sea 
shoots on the gay, embattled, bantering bow, but only to 
drag dark Ahab after it, where he broods within his stern- 
ward cabin, builded over the dead water of the wake, 
and further on, hunted by its wolfish gurglings. The long 
howl thrills me through ! Peace ! ye revellers, and set 
the watch ! Oh, life ! 'tis in an hour like this, with soul 
beat down and held to knowledge, as wild, untutored 
things are forced to feed Oh, life ! 'tis now that I do feel 
the latent horror in thee ! but 'tis not me ! that horror 's 

out of me ! and with the soft feeling of ^ejiuman in me, 
yet ^will I try to fight ye, "ye grim, phantom futures ! 
Stand by me, hold me, bind me, ye blessed influences ! 



(Stubb solus, and mending a brace.) 

HA ! ha ! ha ! ha ! hem ! clear my throat ! I Ve been 
thinking over it ever since, and that ha, ha 3 s the final 
consequence. Why so ? Because a laugh 's the wisest, 
easiest answer to all that 's queer ; and come what will, 
one comfort 's always left that unfailing comfort is, it 's 
all predestinated. I heard not all his talk with Starbuck ; 
but to my poor eye Starbuck then looked something as I 
the other evening felt. Be sure the old Mogul has fixed 
him, too. I twigged it, knew it ; had had the gift, might 
readily have prophesied it for when I clapped my eye 
upon his skull I saw it. Well, Stubb, wise Stubb that 's 
my title well, Stubb, what of it, Stubb ? Here 's a 
carcase. I know not all that may be coming, but be it 
what it will, I '11 go to it laughing. Such a waggish 
leering as lurks in all your horribles ! I feel funny. Fa, 
la ! lirra, skirra ! What 's my juicy little pear at home 
doing now ? Crying its eyes out ? Giving a party to the 
last arrived harpooneers, I dare say, gay as a frigate's 
pennant, and so am I fa, la ! lirra, skirra ! Oh 

We '11 drink to-night with hearts as light, 

To love, as gay and fleeting 
As bubbles that swim, on the beaker's brim, 

And break on the lips while meeting. 

A brave stave that who calls ? Mr. Starbuck ? 
Ay, ay, sir (Aside) he 's my superior, he has his too, 
if I 'm not mistaken. Ay, ay, sir, just through with this 
job coming. 




(Foresail rises and discovers the match standing, lounging, 
leaning, and lying in various attitudes, all singing in chorus.) 

Farewell and adieu to you, Spanish ladies ! 
Farewell and adieu to you, ladies of Spain ! 
Our captain's commanded. 


Oh, boys, don't be sentimental ; it 's bad for the 
digestion ! Take a tonic, follow me ! 

(Sings, and all follow.) 

Our captain stood upon the deck, 

A spy-glass in his hand, 
A-viewing of those gallant whales 

That blew at every strand. 
Oh, your tubs in your boats, my boys, 

And by your braces stand, 
And we '11 have one of those fine whales, 

Hand, boys, over hand ! 

So, be cheery, my lads ! may your hearts never fail ! 
While the bold harpooneer is striking the whale ! 

Eight bells there, forward ! 




Avast the chorus ! Eight bells there ! <T ye hear, 
bell-boy ? Strike the bell eight, thou Pip ! thou black- 
ling ! and let me call the watch. I 've the sort of mouth 
for that the hogshead mouth. So, so, (thrusts his head 
down the scuttle) Star bo-1-e-e-n-s, a-h-o-y ! Eight 
bells there below ! Tumble up ! 


Grand snoozing to-night, maty ; fat night for that. 
I mark this in our old Mogul's wine ; it 's quite as deaden- 
ing to some as filliping to others. We sing ; they sleep- 
ay, lie down there, like ground-tier butts. At 'em again ! 
There, take this copper-pump, and hail 'em through it. 
Tell 'em to avast dreaming of their lasses. Tell 'em it 's 
the resurrection ; they must kiss their last, and come to 
judgment. That 's the way that 's it ; thy throat ain't 
spoiled with eating Amsterdam butter. 


Hist, boys ! let 's have a jig or two before we ride to 
anchor in Blanket Bay. What say ye ? There comes 
the other watch. Stand by, all legs ! Pip ! little Pip ! 
hurrah with your tambourine ! 


(Sulky and sleepy.) 
Don't know where it is. 


Beat thy belly, then, and wag thy ears. Jig it, men, 
I say ; merry 's the word ; hurrah ! Damn me, won't 
you dance ? Form, now, Indian-file, and gallop into the 
double-shuffle ! Throw yourselves ! Legs ! legs ! 



I don't like your floor, maty ; it 's too springy to my 
taste. I 'm used to ice-floors. I 'm sorry to throw cold 
water on the subject ; but excuse me. 


Me too ; where 's your girls ? Who but a fool would 
take his left hand by his right, and say to himself, how 
d' ye do ? Partners ! I must have partners ! 


Ay ; girls and a green ! then I '11 hop with ye ; yea, 
turn grasshopper ! 


Well, well, ye sulkies, there 's plenty more of us. Hoe 
corn when you may, say I. All legs go to harvest soon. 
Ah ! here comes the music ; now for it ! 


(Ascending, and pitching the tambourine up the scuttle.) 

Here you are, Pip ; and there J s the windlass-bitts ; 
up you mount ! Now, boys ! 

(The half of them dance to the tambourine ; some go 
below ; some sleep or lie among the coils of rigging. Oaths 



Go it, Pip ! Bang it, bell-boy ! Rig, it, dig it, stig it, 
quig it, bell-boy ! Make fire-flies ; break the jinglers ! 


Jinglers, you say ? there goes another, dropped off ; 
I pound it so. 



Rattle thy teeth, then, and pound away ; make a 
pagoda of thyself. 


Merry-mad ! Hold up thy hoop, Pip, till I jump 
through it ! Split jibs ! tear yourselves ! 


(Quietly smoking.) 

That 's a white man ; he calls that fun : humph ! I j 
save my sweat. 


I wonder whether those jolly lads bethink them of what 
they are dancing over. I '11 dance over your grave, I will 
that 's the bitterest threat of your night-women, that 
beat head- winds round corners. O Christ ! to think of 
the green navies and the green-skulled crews ! Well, 
well ; belike the whole world 's a ball, as you scholars 
have it ; and so 'tis right to make one ball-room of it. 
Dance on, lads, you 're young ; I was once. 


Spell oh ! whew ! this is worse than pulling after 
whales in a calm give us a whiff, Tash. 

(They cease dancing, and gather in clusters. Meantime 
the sky darkens the wind rises.) 


By Brahma ! boys, it '11 be douse sail soon. The 
sky-born, high -tide Ganges turned to wind ! Thou 
showest thy black brow, Seeva ! 



(Reclining and shaking his cap.) 

It 's the waves the snow's caps turn to jig it now. 
They '11 shake their tassels soon. Now would all the 
waves were women, then I 'd go drown, and chassee with 
them evermore ! There 's naught so sweet on earth 
heaven may not match it ! as those swift glances of 
warm, wild bosoms in the dance, when the over-arbour- 
ing arms hide such ripe, bursting grapes. 



Tell me not of it ! Hark ye, lad fleet interfacings of 
the limbs lithe swayings covings flutterings ! lip ! 
heart ! hip ! all graze : unceasing touch and go ! not 
taste, observe ye, else come satiety. Eh, Pagan ? 


(Reclining on a mat.) 

Hail, holy nakedness of our dancing girls ! the Heeva- 
Heeva ! Ah ! low-veiled, high-palmed Tahiti ! I still 
rest me on thy mat, but the soft soil has slid ! I saw 
thee woven in the wood, my mat ! green the first day I 
brought ye thence ; now worn and wilted quite. Ah me ! 
not thou nor I can bear the change ! How then, if so 
be transplanted to yon sky ? Hear I the roaring streams 
from Pirohitee's peak of spears, when they leap down the 
crags and drown the villages ? The blast ! the blast ! 
Up, spine, and meet it ! (Leaps to his feet.) 



How the sea rolls swashing 'gainst the side ! Stand 
by for reefing, hearties ! the winds are just crossing 
swords, pell-mell they '11 go lunging presently. 


Crack, crack, old ship ! so long as thou crackest, thou 
boldest ! Well done ! The mate there holds ye to it 
stiffly. He 's no more afraid than the isle fort at Cattegat, 
put there to fight the Baltic with storm-lashed guns, on 
which the sea-salt cakes ! 


He has his orders, mind ye that. I heard old Ahab 
tell him he must always kill a squall, something as they 
burst a waterspout with a pistol fire your ship right 
into it ! 


Blood ! but that old man 's a grand old cove ! We are 
the lads to hunt him up his whale ! 

Ay ! ay ! 


How the three pines shake ! Pines are the hardest sort 
of tree to live when shifted to any other soil, and here 
there 's none but the crew's cursed clay. Steady, helms- 
man ! steady. This is the sort of weather when brave 
hearts snap ashore, and keeled hulls split at sea. Our 
captain has his birth-mark ; look yonder, boys, there 's 
another in the sky lurid-like, ye see, all else pitch black. 


What of that ? Who 's afraid of black 's afraid of me ! 
I 'm quarried out of it ! 



(Aside.) He wants to bully, ah ! the old grudge 
makes me touchy. (Advancing.) Ay, harpooneer, thy 
race is the undeniable dark side of mankind devilish 
dark at that. No offence. 

DAGGOO (grimly). 


That Spaniard 's mad or drunk. But that can't be, 
or else in his one case our old Mogul's fire-waters are 
somewhat long in working. 


What 's that I saw lightning ? Yes. 


No ; Daggoo showing his teeth. 

DAGGOO (springing). 
Swallow thine, manikin ! White skin, white liver ! 

SPANISH SAILOR (meeting him). 
Knife thee heartily ! big frame, small spirit ! 

A row ! a row ! a row ! 

TASHTEGO (with a whiff). 

A row alow, and a row aloft Gods and men both 
brawlers ! Humph ! 


A row ! arrah a row ! The Virgin be blessed, a row ! 
Plunge in with ye ! 



Fair play ! Snatch the Spaniard's knife ! A ring, a 

ring ! 


Ready formed. There ! the ringed horizon. In that 
ring Cain struck Abel. Sweet work, right work ! No ? 
Why then, God, mad'st thou the ring ? 


Hands by the halyards ! in top-gallant-sails ! Stand 
by to reef topsails ! 


The squall ! the squall ! jump, my jollies ! (They 

PIP (shrinking under the windlass). 

Jollies ? Lord help such jollies ! Crish, crash ! there 
goes the jib-stay ! Blang-whang ! God ! Duck lower, 
Pip, here comes the royal yard ! It 's worse than being 
in the whirled woods, the last day of the year ! Who 'd 
go climbing after chestnuts now ? But there they go, 
all cursing, and here I don't. Fine prospects to 'em ; 
they 're on the road to heaven. Hold on hard ! Jimmini, 
what a squall ! But those chaps there are worse yet 
they are your white squalls, they. White squalls ? white 
whale, shirr ! shirr ! Here have I heard all their chat 
just now, and the White Whale shirr ! shirr ! but 
spoken of once ! and only this evening it makes me 
jingle all over like my tambourine that anaconda of 
an old man swore 'em in to hunt him ! Oh, thou big 
white God aloft there somewhere in yon darkness, have 
mercy on this small black boy down here ; preserve him 

from all men that have no bowels to feel fear ! 




I, ISHMAEL, was one of that crew ; my shouts had gone 
up with the rest ; my oath had been welded with theirs ; 
and stronger I shouted, and more did I hammer and clinch 
my oath, because of the dread in my soul. A wild, 
mystical, sympathetical feeling was in me ; Ahab's 
quenchless feud seemed mine. With greedy ears I 
learned the history of that murderous monster against 
whom I and all the others had taken our oaths of violence 
and revenge. 

For some time past, though at intervals only, the un- 
accompanied, secluded White Whale had haunted those 
uncivilised seas mostly frequented by the sperm whale 
fishermen. But not all of them knew of his existence ; 
only a few of them, comparatively, had knowingly seen 
him ; while the number who as yet had actually and 
knowingly given battle to him, was small indeed. For, 
owing to the large number of whale-cruisers ; the dis- 
orderly way they were sprinkled over the entire watery 
circumference, many of them adventurously pushing 
their quest along solitary latitudes, so as seldom or never 
for a whole twelvemonth or more on a stretch, to en- 
counter a single news-telling sail of any sort ; the inordin- 
ate length of each separate voyage ; the irregularity of the 
times of sailing from home ; all these, with other circum- 
stances, direct and indirect, long obstructed the spread 
through the whole world- wide whaling-fleet of the special 
individualising tidings concerning Moby-Dick. It was 



hardly to be doubted, that several vessels reported to have 
encountered, at such or such a time, or on such or such a 
meridian, a sperm whale of uncommon magnitude and 
malignity, which whale, after doing great mischief to his 
assailants, had completely escaped them ; to some minds 
it was not an* unfair presumption, I say, that the whale 
in question must have been no other than Moby-Dick. 
Yet as of late the sperm whale fishery had been marked 
by various and not unfrequent instances of great ferocity, 
cunning, and malice in the monster attacked ; therefore 
it was, that those who by accident ignorantly gave battle 
to Moby-Dick ; such hunters, perhaps, for the most part, 
were content to ascribe the peculiar terror he bred, more, 
as it were, to the perils of the sperm whale fishery at 
large, than to the individual cause. In that way, mostly, 
the disastrous encounter between Ahab and the whale 
had hitherto been popularly regarded. 

And as for those who, previously hearing of the White 
Whale, by chance caught sight of him ; in the beginning 
of the thing they had every one of them, almost, as boldly 
and fearlessly lowered for him, as for any other whale of 
that species. But at length, such calamities did ensue 
in these assaults not restricted to sprained wrists and 
ankles, broken limbs, or devouring amputations but 
fatal to the last degree of fatality ; those repeated disas- 
trous repulses, all accumulating and piling their terrors 
upon Moby -Dick ; those things had gone far to shake the 
fortitude of many brave hunters, to whom the story of 
the White Whale had eventually come. 

Nor did wild rumours of all sorts fail to exaggerate, and 
still the more horrify the true histories of these deadly 
encounters. For not only do fabulous rumours naturally 
grow out of the very body of all surprising terrible events, 
as the smitten tree gives birth to its fungi ; but, in 
maritime life, far more than in that of terra-firma, wild 


rumours abound, wherever there is any adequate reality 
for them to cling to. And as the sea surpasses the land 
in this matter, so the whale-fishery surpasses every other 
sort of maritime life, in the wonderfulness and fearful- 
ness of the rumours which sometimes circulate there. 
For not only are whalemen as a body unexempt from that 
ignorance and superstitiousness hereditary to all sailors ; 
but of all sailors, they are by all odds the most directly 
brought into contact with whatever is appallingly astonish- 
ing in the sea ; face to face they not only eye its greatest 
marvels, but, hand to jaw, give battle to them. Alone, 
in such remotest waters, that though you sailed a thousand 
miles, and passed a thousand shores, you would not come 
to any chiselled hearthstone, or aught hospitable beneath 
that part of the sun ; in such latitudes and longitudes, 
pursuing too such a calling as he does, the whaleman is 
wrapped by influences all tending to make his fancy 
pregnant with many a mighty birth. 

No wonder, then, that ever gathering volume from the 
mere transit over the wildest watery spaces, the outblown 
rumours of the White Whale did in the end incorporate 
with themselves all manner of morbid hints, and half- 
formed foetal suggestions of supernatural agencies, which 
eventually invested Moby-Dick with new terrors un- 
borrowed from anything that visibly appears. So that in 
many cases such a panic did he finally strike, that few 
who by those rumours, at least, had heard of the White 
Whale, few of those hunters were willing to encounter the 
perils of his jaw. 

But there were still other and more vital practical 
influences at work. Not even at the present day has the 
original prestige of the sperm whale, as fearfully dis- 
tinguished from all other species of the leviathan, died out 
of the minds of the whalemen as a body. There are those 
this day among them, who, though intelligent and cour- 


ageous enough in offering battle to the Greenland or right 
whale, would perhaps, either from professional inexperi- 
ence, or incompetency, or timidity, decline a contest with 
the sperm whale ; at any rate, there are plenty of whale- 
men, especially among those whaling nations not sailing 
under the American flag, who have never hostilely en- 
countered the sperm whale, but whose sole knowledge 
of the leviathan is restricted to the ignoble monster 
primitively pursued in the North ; seated on their 
hatches, these men will hearken with a childish fireside 
interest and awe, to the wild, strange tales of Southern 
whaling. Nor is the pre-eminent tremendousness of the 
great sperm whale anywhere more feelingly compre- 
hended, than on board of those prows which stem him. 

And as if the now tested reality of his might had in 
former legendary times thrown its shadow before it ; we 
find some book naturalists Olassen and Povelson 
declaring the sperm whale not only to be a consternation 
to every other creature in the sea, but also to be so in- 
credibly ferocious as continually to be athirst for human \ 
blood. Nor even down to so late a time as Cuvier's, were 
these or almost similar impressions effaced. For in his 
Natural History, the Baron himself affirms that at 
sight of the sperm whale, all fish (sharks included) are 
'struck with the most lively terrors,' and 'often in the 
precipitancy of their flight dash themselves against the 
rocks with such violence as to cause instantaneous death.' 
And however the general experiences in the fishery may 
amend such reports as these ; yet in their full terribleness, 
even to the bloodthirsty item of Povelson, the super- 
stitious belief in them is, in some vicissitudes of their 
vocation, revived in the minds of the hunters. 

So that overawed by the rumours and portents concern- 
ing him, not a few of the fishermen recalled, in reference 
to Moby-Dick, the earlier days of the sperm whale fishery, 

VOL. i. p 


when it was oftentimes hard to induce long -practised right 
whalemen to embark in the perils of this new and daring 
warfare ; such men protesting that although other 
leviathans might be hopefully pursued, yet to chase and 
point lance at such an apparition as the sperm whale was 
not for mortal man. That to attempt it, would be inevit- 
ably to be torn into a quick eternity. On this head, 
there are some remarkable documents that may be 

Nevertheless, some there were, who even in the face of 
these things were ready to give chase to Moby-Dick ; and 
a still greater number who, chancing only to hear of him 
distantly and vaguely, without the specific details of any 
certain calamity, and without superstitious accompani- 
ments, were sufficiently hardy not to flee from the battle 
if offered. 

One of the wild suggestings referred to, as at last coming 
to be linked with the White Whale in the minds of the 
superstitiously inclined, was the unearthly conceit that 
Moby-Dick was ubiquitous ; that he had actually been 
encountered in opposite latitudes at one and the same 
instant of time. 

Nor, credulous as such minds must have been, was 
this conceit altogether without some faint show of super- 
stitious probability. For as the secrets of the currents 
in the seas have never yet been divulged, even to the 
most erudite research ; so the hidden ways of the sperm 
whale when beneath the surface remain, in great part, 
unaccountable to his pursuers ; and from time to time 
have originated the most curious and contradictory specu- 
lations regarding them, especially concerning the mystic 
modes whereby, after sounding to a great depth, he trans- 
ports himself with such vast swiftness to the most widely 
distant points. 

It is a thing well known to both American and English 


whale-ships, and as well a thing placed upon authoritative 
record years ago by Scoresby, that some whales have been 
captured far north in the Pacific, in whose bodies have been 
found the barbs of harpoons darted in the Greenland seas. 
Nor is it to be gainsaid, that in some of these instances it 
has been declared that the interval of time between the 
two assaults could not have exceeded very many days. 
Hence, by inference, it has been believed by some whale- 
men, that the Nor'- West Passage, so long a problem to 
man, was never a problem to the whale. So that here, 
in the real living experience of living men, the prodigies 
related in old times of the inland Strello mountain in 
Portugal (near whose top there was said to be a lake in 
which the wrecks of ships floated up to the surface) ; 
and that still more wonderful story of the Arethusa 
fountain near Syracuse (whose waters were believed to 
have come from the Holy Land by an underground 
passage) ; these fabulous narrations are almost fully 
equalled by the realities of the whaleman. 

Forced into familiarity, then, with such prodigies as 
these ; and knowing that after repeated, intrepid assaults, 
the White Whale had escaped alive ; it cannot be much 
matter of surprise that some whalemen should go still 
further in their superstitions ; declaring Moby-Dick not 
only ubiquitous, but immortal (for immortality is but 
ubiquity in time) ; that though groves of spears should 
be planted in his flanks, he would still swim away un- 
harmed ; or if indeed he should ever be made to spout 
thick blood, such a sight would be but a ghastly decep- 
tion ; for again in unensanguined billows hundreds of 
leagues away, his unsullied jet would once more be seen. 

But even stripped of these supernatural surmisings, 
there was enough in the earthly make and incontestable 
character of the monster to strike the imagination with 
unwonted power. For, it was not so much his uncommon 


bulk that so much distinguished him from other sperm 
whales, but, as was elsewhere thrown out a peculiar 
snow-white wrinkled forehead, and a high, pyramidical 
white hump. These were his prominent features ; the 
tokens whereby, even hi the limitless, uncharted seas, 
he revealed his identity, at a long distance, to those who 
knew him. 

The rest of his body was so streaked, and spotted, and 
marbled with the same shrouded hue, that, in the end, 
he had gained his distinctive appellation of the White 
Whale ; a name, indeed, literally justified by his vivid 
aspect, when seen gliding at high noon through a dark 
blue sea, leaving a milky-way wake of creamy foam, all 
spangled with golden gleamings. 

Nor was it his unwonted magnitude, nor his remarkable 
hue, nor yet his deformed lower jaw, that so much in- 
vested the whale with natural terror, as that unexampled, 
intelligent malignity which, according to specific accounts, 
he had over and over again evinced in his assaults. More 
than all, his treacherous retreats struck more of dismay 
than perhaps aught else. For, when swimming before 
his exulting pursuers, with every apparent symptom of 
alarm, he had several times been known to turn round 
suddenly, and, bearing down upon them, either stave 
their boats to splinters, or drive them back in consterna- 
tion to their ship. 

Already several fatalities had attended his chase. 
But though similar disasters, however little bruited 
ashore, were by no means unusual in the fishery ; yet, in 
most instances, such seemed the White Whale's infernal 
aforethought of ferocity, that every dismembering or 
death that he caused, was not wholly regarded as having 
been inflicted by an unintelligent agent. 

Judge, then, to what pitches of inflamed, distracted 
fury the minds of his more desperate hunters were im- 


pelled, when amid the chips of chewed boats, and the 
sinking limbs of torn comrades, they swam out of the 
white curds of the whale's direful wrath into the serene, 
exasperating sunlight, that smiled on, as if at a birth or 
a bridal. 

His three boats stove around him, and oars and men 
both whirling in the eddies, one captain, seizing the line- 
knife from his broken prow, had dashed at the whale, 
as an Arkansas duellist at his foe, blindly seeking with a 
six-inch blade to reach the fathom-deep life of the whale. 
That captain was Ahab. And then it was, that suddenly 
sweeping his sickle -shaped lower jaw beneath him, Moby- 
Dick had reaped away Ahab's leg, as a mower a blade of 
grass in the field. No turbaned Turk, no hired Venetian 
or Malay, could have smote him with more seeming 
malice. Small reason was there to doubt, then, that ever 
since that almost fatal encounter, Ahab had cherished a 
wild vindictiveness against the whale, all the more fell 
for that in his frantic morbidness he at last came to 
identify with him, not only all his bodily woes, but all 
his intellectual and spiritual exasperations. The White 
Whale swam before him as the monomaniac incarnation 
of all those malicious agencies which some deep men 
feel eating in them, till they are left living on with half 
a heart and half a lung. That intangible malignity which 
has been from the beginning ; to whose dominion even 
the modern Christians ascribe one-half of the worlds ; 
which the ancient Ophites of the East reverenced in their 
statue devil ; Ahab did not fall down and worship it 
like them ; but deliriously transferring its idea to the 
abhorred White Whale, he pitted himself, all mutilated, 
against it. All that most maddens and torments ; all 
that stirs up the lees of things ; all truth with malice in 
it ; all that cracks the sinews and cakes the brain ; all 
the subtle demonisms of life and thought ; all evil, to 


crazy Ahab, were visibly personified, and made practically 
assailable in Moby-Dick. He piled upon the whale's 
white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt 
by his whole race from Adam down ; and then, as if his 
chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart's shell 
upon it. 

It is not probable that this monomania in him took its 
instant rise at the precise time of his bodily dismember- 
ment. Then, in darting at the monster, knife in hand, 
he had but given loose to a sudden, passionate, corporal 
animosity ; and when he received the stroke that tore 
him, he probably but felt the agonising bodily laceration, 
but nothing more. Yet, when by this collision forced to 
turn toward home, and for long months of days and weeks, 
Ahab and anguish lay stretched together in one ham- 
mock, rounding in mid- winter that dreary, howling Pata- 
gonian Cape ; then it was, that his torn body and gashed 
soul bled into one another ; and so interfusing, made him 
mad. That it was only then, on the homeward voyage, 
after the encounter, that the final monomania seized him, 
seems all but certain from the fact that, at intervals during 
the passage, he was a raving lunatic ; and, though un- 
limbed of a leg, yet such vital strength yet lurked in his 
Egyptian chest, and was moreover intensified by his 
delirium, that his mates were forced to lace him fast, 
even there, as he sailed, raving in his hammock. In a 
strait -jacket, he swung to the mad rockings of the gales. 
And, when running into more sufferable latitudes, the 
ship, with mild stun '-sails spread, floated across the 
tranquil tropics, and, to all appearances, the old man's 
delirium seemed left behind him with the Cape Horn 
swells, and he came forth from his dark den into the blessed 
light and air ; even then, when he bore that firm, collected 
front, however pale, and issued his calm orders once again ; 
and his mates thanked God the direful madness was now 


gone ; even then, Ahab, in his hidden self, raved on. 
Human madness is oftentimes a cunning and most feline 
thing. When you think it fled, it may have but become 
transfigured into some still subtler form. Ahab's full 
lunacy subsided not, but deepeningly contracted ; like 
the unabated Hudson, when that noble Northman flows 
narrowly, but unfathomably through the Highland gorge. 
But, as in his narrow-flowing monomania, not one jot 
of Ahab's broad madness had been left behind ; so in 
that broad madness, not one jot of his great natural 
intellect had perished. That before living agent, now 
became the living instrument. If such a furious trope 
may stand, his special lunacy stormed his general sanity, 
and carried it, and turned all its concentrated cannon 
upon its own mad mark ; so that far from having lost 
his strength, Ahab, to that one end, did now possess a 
thousand-fold more potency than ever he had sanely 
brought to bear upon any one reasonable object. 

This is much ; yet Ahab's larger, darker, deeper part 
remains unhinted. But vain to popularise profundities, 
and all truth is profound. Winding far down from within 
the very heart of this spiked Hotel de Cluny where we 
here stand however grand and wonderful, now quit it ; 
and take your way, ye nobler, sadder souls, to those vast 
Roman halls of Thermes ; where far beneath the fantastic 
towers of man's upper earth, his root of grandeur, his 
whole awful essence sits in bearded state ; an antique 
buried beneath antiquities, and throned on torsoes ! 
So with a broken throne, the great gods mock that captive 
king ; so like a Caryatid, he patient sits, upholding on 
his frozen brow the piled entablatures of ages. Wind ye 
down there, ye prouder, sadder souls ! question that 
proud, sad king ! A family likeness ! ay, he did beget 
ye> ye young exiled royalties ; and from your grim sire 
only will the old State -secret come. 


Now, in his heart, Ahab had some glimpse of this, 
namely : all my means are sane, my motive and my object 
mad. Yet without power to kill, or change, or shun the 
fact, he likewise knew that to mankind he did long dis- 
. semble ; in some sort, did still. But that thing of his 
dissembling was only subject to his perceptibility, not 
to his will determinate. Nevertheless, so well did he 
succeed in that dissembling, that when with ivory leg 
he stepped ashore at last, no Nantucketer thought him 
otherwise than but naturally grieved, and that to the 
quick, with the terrible casualty which had overtaken 

The report of his undeniable delirium at sea was like- 
wise popularly ascribed to a kindred cause. And so too, 
all the added moodiness which always afterward, to the 
very day of sailing in the Pequod on the present voyage, 
sat brooding on his brow. Nor is it so very unlikely, 
that far from distrusting his fitness for another whaling 
voyage, on account of such dark symptoms, the calculating 
people of that prudent isle were inclined to harbour the 
conceit, that for those very reasons he was all the better 
qualified and set on edge, for a pursuit so full of rage and 
wildness as the bloody hunt of whales. Gnawed within 
and scorched without, with the unfixed, unrelenting fangs 
of some incurable idea ; such an one, could he be found, 
would seem the very man to dart his iron and lift his 
lance against the most appalling of all brutes. Or, if for 
any reason thought to be corporeally incapacitated for 
that, yet such an one would seem superlatively competent 
to cheer and howl on his underlings to the attack. But 
be all this as it may, certain it is, that with the mad 
secret of his unabated rage bolted up and keyed in him, 
Ahab had purposely sailed upon the present voyage with 
the one only and all-engrossing object of hunting the White 
Whale. Had any one of his old acquaintances on shore 


but half dreamed of what was lurking in him then, how 
soon would their aghast and righteous souls have wrenched 
the ship from such a fiendish man ! They were bent 
on profitable cruises, the profit to be counted down in 
dollars from the mint. He was intent on an audacious, 
immitigable, and supernatural revenge. 

Here, then, was this gray-headed, ungodly old man, 
chasing with curses a Job's whale round the world, at the 
head of a crew, too, chiefly made up of mongrel renegades, 
and castaways, and cannibals morally enfeebled, also, 
by the incompetence of mere unaided virtue or right- 
mindedness mStarbuck, the invulnerable jollity of indiffer- 
ence and recklessness in Stubb, and the pervading medioc- 
rity in Flask. Such a crew, so officered, seemed specially 
picked and packed by some infernal fatality to help Mm 
to his monomaniac revenge. How it was that they so 
aboundingly responded to the old man's ire by what 
evil magic their souls were possessed, that at times his 
hate seemed almost theirs ; the White Whale as much 
their insufferable foe as his ; how all this came to be- 
what the White Whale was to them, or how to their 
unconscious understandings, also, in some dim, unsus- 
pected way, he might have seemed the gliding great demon 
of the seas of life, all this to explain, would be to dive 
deeper than Ishmael can go. The subterranean miner 
that works in us all, how can one tell whither leads his 
shaft by the ever shifting, muffled sound of his pick ? 
Who does not feel the irresistible arm drag ? What skiff 
in tow of a seventy-four can stand still ? For one, I gave 
myself up to the abandonment of the time and the place ; 
but while yet all a-rush to encounter the whale, could see 
naught in that brute but the deadliest ill. 



WHAT the White Whale was to Ahab has been hinted ; 
what, at times, he was to me, as yet remains unsaid. 

Aside from those more obvious considerations touching 
Moby-Dick, which could not but occasionally awaken in 
any man's soul some alarm, there was another thought, 
or rather vague, nameless horror concerning him, which 
at times by its intensity completely overpowered all the 
rest ; and yet so mystical and well-nigh ineffable was it, 
that I almost despair of putting it in a comprehensible 
form. It was the whiteness of the whale that above all 
things appalled me. But how can I hope to explain 
myself here ; and yet, in some dim, random way, explain 
myself I must, else all these chapters might be naught. 

Though in many natural objects, whiteness refiningly 
enhances beauty, as if imparting some special virtue of 
its own, as in marbles, japonicas, and pearls ; and though 
various nations have in some way recognised a certain 
royal pre-eminence in this hue ; even the barbaric, grand 
old kings of Pegu placing the title ' Lord of the White 
Elephants ' above all their other magniloquent ascrip- 
tions of dominion ; and the modern kings of Siam un- 
furling the same snow-white quadruped in the royal 
standard ; and the Hanoverian flag bearing the one figure 
of a snow-white charger ; and the great Austrian Empire, 
Caesarian, heir to overlording Rome, having for the 
imperial colour the same imperial hue ; and though this 
pre-eminence in it applies to the human race itself, giving 



the white man ideal mastership over every dusky tribe ; 
and though, besides all this, whiteness has been even 
made significant of gladness, for among the Romans a 
white stone marked a joyful day ; and though in other 
mortal sympathies and symbolisings, this same hue is 
made the emblem of many touching, noble things the 
innocence of brides, the benignity of age ; though among 
the Bed Men of America the giving of the white belt of 
wampum was the deepest pledge of honour ; though in 
many climes, whiteness typifies the majesty of Justice 
in the ermine of the Judge, and contributes to the daily 
state of kings and queens drawn by milk-white steeds ; 
though even in the higher mysteries of the most august 
religions it has been made the symbol of the divine spot- 
lessness and power ; by the Persian fire -worshippers, the 
white forked flame being held the holiest on the altar ; 
and in the Greek mythologies, Great Jove himself being 
made incarnate in a snow-white bull ; and though to the 
noble Iroquois, the mid-winter sacrifice of the sacred 
White Dog was by far the holiest festival of their theology, 
that spotless, faithful creature being held the purest 
envoy they could send to the Great Spirit with the annual 
tidings of their own fidelity ; and though directly from 
the Latin word for white, all Christian priests derive the 
name of one part of their sacred vesture, the alb or tunic, 
worn beneath the cassock ; and though among the holy 
pomps of the Romish faith, white is specially employed 
in the celebration of the Passion of our Lord ; though 
in the Vision of St. John, white robes are given to the 
redeemed, and the four-and-twenty elders stand clothed 
in white before the great white throne, and the Holy 
One that sitteth there white like wool ; yet for all these 
accumulated associations, with whatever is sweet, and 
honourable, and sublime, there yet lurks an elusive some- 
thing in the innermost idea of this hue, which strikes more 



of panic to the soul than that redness which affrights in 

This elusive quality it is, which causes the thought of 
whiteness, when divorced from more kindly associations, 
and coupled with any object terrible in itself, to heighten 
that terror to the furthest bounds. Witness the white 
bear of the Poles, and the white shark of the Tropics ; 
what but their smooth, flaky whiteness makes them the 
transcendent horrors they are ? That ghastly whiteness 
it is which imparts such an abhorrent mildness, even more 
loathsome than terrific, to the dumb gloating of their 
aspect. So that not the fierce-fanged tiger in his heraldic 
coat can so stagger courage as the white-shrouded bear 
or shark. 1 

Bethink thee of the albatross, whence come those 
clouds of spiritual wonderment and pale dread, in which 
that white phantom sails in all imaginations ? Not 
Coleridge first threw that spell ; but God's great, unflatter- 
ing laureate, Nature. 2 

1 With reference to the Polar bear, it may possibly be urged by him 
who would fain go still deeper into this matter, that it is not the white- 
ness, separately regarded, which heightens the intolerable hideousness of 
that brute ; for, analysed, that heightened hideousness, it might be said, 
only arises from the circumstance, that the irresponsible ferociousness of 
the creature stands invested in the fleece of celestial innocence and love : 
and hence, by bringing together two such opposite emotions in our minds, 
the Polar bear frightens us with so unnatural a contrast. But even 
assuming all this to be true ; yet, were it not for the whiteness, you 
would not have that intensified terror. 

As for the white shark, the white gliding ghostliness of repose in that 
creature, when beheld in his ordinary moods, strangely tallies with the 
same quality in the Polar quadruped. This peculiarity is most vividly 
hit by the French in the name they bestow upon that fish. The Romish 
mass for the dead begins with * Requiem eternam ' (eternal rest), whence 
Requiem denominating the mass itself, and any other funereal music. 
Now, in allusion to the white, silent stillness of death in this shark, and 
the mild deadliness of his habits, the French call him Requin. 

2 I remember the first albatross I ever saw. It was during a prolonged 
gale, in waters hard upon the Antarctic seas. From my forenoon watch 
below, I ascended to the overclouded deck ; and there, dashed upon the 
main hatches, I saw a regal, feathery thing of unspotted whiteness, and 
with a hooked, Roman bill sublime. At intervals, it arched forth its vast 


Most famous in our Western annals and Indian tradi- 
tions is that of the White Steed of the Prairies ; a 
magnificent milk-white charger, large -eyed, small-headed, 
bluff-chested, and with the dignity of a thousand monarchs 
in his lofty, over-scorning carriage. He was the elected 
Xerxes of vast herds of wild horses, whose pastures in 
those days were only fenced by the Rocky Mountains 
and the Alleghanies. At their flaming head he westward 
trooped it like that chosen star which every evening leads 
on the hosts of light. The flashing cascade of his mane, 
the curving comet of his tail, invested him with housings 
more resplendent than gold and silver beaters could have 
furnished him. A most imperial and archangelical appari- 
tion of that unf alien, Western world, which to the eyes of 

archangel wings, as if to embrace some holy ark. Wondrous flutterings 
and throbbings shook it. Though bodily unharmed, it uttered cries, as 
some king's ghost in supernatural distress. Through its inexpressible, 
strange eyes, methought I peeped to secrets which took hold of God. As 

strange eyes, metnougnt l peeped to secrets wnicn toofc hold 01 l*od. As I 
Abraham before the angels, I bowed myself ; the white thing was so white, 1 
its wings so wide, and in those forever exiled waters, I had lost the * 
miserable warping memories of traditions and of towns. Long I gazed at 
that prodigy of plumage. I cannot tell, can only hint, the things that 
darted through me then. But at last I awoke ; and turning, asked a 
sailor what bird was this. A goney, he replied. Goney ! I never had 
heard that name before ; is it conceivable that this glorious thing ia 
utterly unknown to men ashore ! never ! But some time after, I learned 
that goney was some seaman's name for albatross. So that by no possi- 
bility could Coleridge's wild Rhyme have had aught to do with those 
mystical impressions which were mine, when I saw that bird upon our 
deck. For neither had I then read the Rhyme, nor knew the bird to be 
an albatross. Yet, in saying this, I do but indirectly burnish a little 
brighter the noble merit of the poem and the poet. 

I assert, then, that in the wondrous bodily whiteness of the bird chiefly 
lurks the secret of the spell ; a truth the more evinced in this, that by a 
solecism of terms there are birds called gray albatrosses ; and these I have 
frequently seen, but never with such emotions as when I beheld the 
Antarctic fowl. 

But how had the mystic thing been caught? Whisper it not, and I 
will tell ; with a treacherous hook and line, as the fowl floated on the sea. 
At last the captain made a postman of it ; tying a lettered, leathern tally 
round its neck, with the ship's time and place ; and then letting it 
escape. But I doubt not, that leathern tally, meant for man, was taken 
off in Heaven, when the white fowl flew to join the wing-folding, the 
invoking, and adoring cherubim ! 


the old trappers and hunters revived the glories of those 
primeval times when Adam walked majestic as a god, 
bluff -bo wed and fearless as this mighty steed. Whether 
marching amid his aides and marshals in the van of 
countless cohorts that endlessly streamed it over the 
plains, like an Ohio ; or whether with his circumambient 
subjects browsing all around at the horizon, the White 
Steed gallopingly reviewed them with warm nostrils 
reddening through his cool milkiness ; in whatever aspect 
he presented himself, always to the bravest Indians he 
was the object of trembling reverence and awe. Nor can 
it be questioned from what stands on legendary record 
of this noble horse, that it was his spiritual whiteness 
chiefly, which so clothed him with divineness ; and that 
this divineness had that in it which, though commanding 
worship, at the same time enforced a certain nameless 

But there are other instances where this whiteness loses 
all that accessory and strange glory which invests it in 
the White Steed and Albatross. 

What is it that in the Albino man so peculiarly repels 
and often shocks the eye, as that sometimes he is loathed 
by his own kith and kin ! It is that whiteness which 
invests him, a thing expressed by the name he bears. 
The Albino is as well made as other men has no sub- 
stantive deformity and yet this mere aspect of all- 
pervading whiteness makes him more strangely hideous 
than the ugliest abortion. Why should this be so ? 

Nor, in quite other aspects, does Nature in her least 
palpable but not the less malicious agencies, fail to enlist 
among her forces this crowning attribute of the terrible. 
From its snowy aspect, the gauntleted ghost of the 
Southern seas has been denominated the White Squall. 
Nor, in some historic instances, has the art of human 
malice omitted so potent an auxiliary. How wildly it 


heightens the effect of that passage in Froissart, when, 
masked in the snowy symbol of their faction, the desper- 
ate White Hoods of Ghent murder their bailiff in the 
market-place ! 

Nor, in some things, does the common, hereditary 
experience of all mankind fail to bear witness to the 
supernaturalism of this hue. It cannot well be doubted, 
that the one visible quality in the aspect of the dead which 
most appals the gazer, is the marble pallor lingering there ; 
as if indeed that pallor were as much like the badge of 
consternation in the other world, as of mortal trepidation 
here. And from that pallor of the dead, we borrow the 
expressive hue of the shroud in which we wrap them. 
Nor even in our superstitions do we fail to throw the same 
snowy mantle round our phantoms ; all ghosts rising in 
a milk-white fog Yea, while these terrors seize us, let 
us add, that even the king of terrors, when personified by 
the evangelist, rides on his pallid horse. 

Therefore, in his other moods, symbolise whatever 
grand or gracious thing he will by whiteness, no man can 
deny that in its profoundest idealised significance it calls 
up a peculiar apparition to the soul. 

But though without dissent this point be fixed, how is 
mortal man to account for it ? To analyse it would 
seem impossible. Can we, then, by the citation of some 
of those instances wherein this thing of whiteness 
though for the time either wholly or in great part stripped 
of all direct associations calculated to impart to it aught 
fearful, but, nevertheless, is found to exert over us the 
same sorcery, however modified ; can we thus hope to 
light upon some chance clue to conduct us to the hidden 
cause we seek ? 

Let us try. But in a matter like this, subtlety appeals 
to subtlety, and without imagination no man can follow 
another into these halls. And though, doubtless, some at 


least of the imaginative impressions about to be presented 
may have been shared by most men, yet few perhaps were 
entirely conscious of them at the time, and therefore may 
not be able to recall them now. 

Why to the man of untutored ideality, who happens to 
be but loosely acquainted with the peculiar character of 
the day, does the bare mention of Whitsuntide marshal 
in the fancy such long, dreary, speechless processions of 
slow-pacing pilgrims downcast and hooded with new- 
fallen snow ? Or, to the unread, unsophisticated Protes- 
tant of the Middle American States, why does the passing 
mention of a White Friar or a White Nun, evoke such an 
eyeless statue in the soul ? 

Or what is there apart from the traditions of dungeoned 
warriors and kings (which will not wholly account for it) 
that makes the White Tower of London tell so much more 
strongly on the imagination of an untravelled American 
than those other storied structures, its neighbours the 
Byward Tower, or even the Bloody ? And those sub- 
limer towers, the White Mountains of New Hampshire, 
whence, in peculiar moods, comes that gigantic ghostli- 
ness over the soul at the bare mention of that name, while 
the thought of Virginia's Blue Ridge is full of a soft, dewy, 
distant dreaminess ? Or *why, irrespective of all latitudes 
and longitudes, does thg name of the White Sea exert 
such a spectralness over the fancy, while that of the 
Yellow Sea lulls us with mortal thoughts of long lacquered 
mild afternoons on the waves, followed by the gaudiest 
and yet sleepiest of sunsets ? Or, to choose a wholly un- 
substantial instance, purely addressed to the fancy, why, 
in reading the old fairy tales of Central Europe, does ' the 
tall pale man ' of the Hartz forests, whose changeless 
pallor unrustlingly glides through the green of the groves 
why is this phantom more terrible than all the whooping 
imps of the Blocksburg ? 


Nor is it, altogether, the remembrance of her cathedral- 
toppling earthquakes ; nor the stampedoes of her frantic 
seas ; nor the tearlessness of arid skies that never rain ; 
nor the sight of her wide field of leaning spires, wrenched 
cope-stones, and crosses all adroop (like canted yards of 
anchored fleets) ; and her suburban avenues of house- 
walls lying over upon each other, as a tossed pack of 
cards ; it is not these things alone which make tearless 
Lima the strangest, saddest city thou canst see. For 
Lima has taken the white veil ; and there is a higher 
horror in this whiteness of her woe. Old as Pizarro, 
this whiteness keeps her ruins forever new ; admits not 
the cheerful greenness of complete decay ; spreads over 
her broken ramparts the rigid pallor of an apoplexy that 
fixes its own distortions. 

I know that, to the common apprehension, this phe- 
nomenon of whiteness is not confessed to be the prime 
agent in exaggerating the terror of objects otherwise 
terrible ; nor to the unimaginative mind is there aught 
of terror in those appearances whose awfulness to another 
mind almost solely consists in this one phenomenon, 
especially when exhibited under any form at all approach- 
ing to muteness or universality. What I mean by these 
two statements may perhaps be respectively elucidated 
by the following examples. 

First : The mariner, when drawing nigh the coasts of 
foreign lands, if by night he hear the roar of breakers, 
starts to vigilance, and feels just enough of trepidation to 
sharpen all his faculties ; but under precisely similar 
circumstances, let him be called from his hammock to 
view his ship sailing through a midnight sea of milky 
whiteness as if from encircling headlands shoals of 
combed white bears were swimming round him then he 
feels a silent, superstitious dread ; the shrouded phantom 
of the whitened waters is horrible to him as a real ghost ; 

VOL. I. Q 


in vain the lead assures him he is still off soundings ; heart 
and helm they both go down ; he never rests till blue 
water is under him again. Yet where is the mariner who 
will tell thee, ' Sir, it was not so much the fear of striking 
hidden rocks, as the fear of that hideous whiteness that 
so stirred me ' ? 

Second : To the native Indian of Peru, the continual 
sight of the snow-howdahed Andes conveys naught of 
dread, except, perhaps, in the mere fancying of the eternal 
frosted desolateness reigning at such vast altitudes, and 
the natural conceit of what a fearfulness it would be to 
lose oneself in such inhuman solitudes. Much the same 
is it with the backwoodsman of the West, who with com- 
parative indifference views an unbounded prairie sheeted 
with driven snow, no shadow of tree or twig to break the 
fixed trance of whiteness. Not so the sailor, beholding 
the scenery of the Antarctic seas ; where at times, by 
some infernal trick of legerdemain in the powers of frost 
and air, he, shivering and half shipwrecked, instead of 
rainbows speaking hope and solace to his misery, views 
what seems a boundless churchyard grinning upon him 
with its lean ice monuments and splintered crosses. 

But thou sayest, methinks this white -lead chapter 
about whiteness is but a white flag hung out from a craven 
soul ; thou surrenderest to a hypo, Ishmael. 

Tell me, why this strong young colt, foaled in some 
peaceful valley of Vermont, far removed from all beasts 
of prey why is it that upon the sunniest day, if you but 
shake a fresh buffalo robe behind him, so that he cannot 
even see it, but only smells its wild animal muskiness 
why will he start, snort, and with bursting eyes paw the 
ground in frenzies of affright ? There is no remem- 
brance in him of any gorings of wild creatures in his green 
northern home, so that the strange muskiness he smells 
cannot recall to him anything associated with the experi- 


ence of former perils ; for what knows he, this New 
England colt, of the black bisons of distant Oregon ? 

No : but here thou beholdest even in a dumb brute, I.J^A 
the instinct of the knowledge of the demonismjin the /* / 
world. Though thousands of miles from Oregon, still 
when he smells that savage musk, the rending, goring 
bison herds are as present as to the deserted wild foal of 
the prairies, which this instant they may be trampling 
into dust. 

Thus, then, the muffled rollings of a milky sea ; the 
bleak rustlings of the festooned frosts of mountains ; the 
desolate shiftings of the windrowed snows of prairies ; 
all these, to Ishmael, are as the shaking of that buffalo 
robe to the frightened colt ! 

Though neither knows where lie the nameless things of 
which the mystic sign gives forth such hints ; yet with s 
me, as with the colt, somewhere those things must exist. 
Though in many of its aspects this visible world seems 
formed in love, the invisible spheres were formed in fright. 

But not yet have we solved the incantation of this 
whiteness, and learned why it appeals with such power to 
the soul ; and more strange and far more portentous 
why, as we have seen, it is at once the most meaning 
symbol of spiritual things, nay, the very veil of the 
Christian's Deity ; and yet should be as it is, the intensi- 
fying agent in things the most appalling to mankind. 

Is it that by its indefiniteness it shadows forth the 
heartless voids and immensities of the universe, and thus 
stabs us from behind with the thought of annihilation, 
when beholding the white depths of the Milky Way ? Or 
is it, that as in essence whiteness is not so much a colour 
as the visible ^ absence^J_c^laar^ and at the same time the 
concrete of all colours ; is it for these reasons that there 
is such a dumb blankness, full of meaning, in a wide 
landscape of snows a colourless, all-colour of atheism 


from which we shrink ? And when we consider that other 
theory of the natural philosophers, that all other earthly 
hues every stately or lovely emblazoning the sweet 
tinges of sunset skies and woods ; yea, and the gilded 
velvets of butterflies, and the butterfly cheeks of young 
girls ; all these are but subtle deceits, not actually in- 
herent in substances, but only laid on from without ; so 
that all deified Nature absolutely paints like the harlot, 
whose allurements cover nothing but the charnel-house 
within ; and when we proceed further, and consider 
that the mystical cosmetic which produces every one of 
her hues, the great principle of light, forever remains 
white or colourless in itself, and if operating without 
medium upon matter, would touch all objects, even 
tulips and roses, with its own blank tinge pondering all 
this, the palsied universe lies before us a leper ; and like 
wilful travellers in Lapland, who refuse to wear coloured 
and colouring glasses upon their eyes, so the wretched 
infidel gazes himself blind at the monumental white 
shroud that wraps all the prospect around him. And of 
all these things the Albino whale was the symbol. Wonder 
ye then at the fiery hunt ? 



' HIST ! Did you hear that noise, Cabaco ? ' 

It was the middle -watch : a fair moonlight ; the 
seamen were standing in a cordon, extending from one 
of the fresh-water butts in the waist, to the scuttle-butt 
near the taffrail. In this manner, they passed the 
buckets to fill the scuttle-butt. Standing, for the most 
part, on the hallowed precincts of the quarter-deck, they 
were careful not to speak or rustle their feet. From hand 
to hand, the buckets went in the deepest silence, only 
broken by the occasional flap of a sail, and the steady hum 
of the unceasingly advancing keel. 

It was in the midst of this repose, that Archy, one of 
the cordon, whose post was near the after-hatches, 
whispered to his neighbour, a Cholo, the words above. 
' Hist ! did you hear that noise, Cabaco ? ' 
' Take the bucket, will ye, Archy ? what noise d' ye 
mean ? ' 

' There it is again under the hatches don't you hear 
it ? a cough it sounded like a cough.' 

' Cough be damned ! Pass along that return bucket.' 
' There again there it is ! it sounds like two or three 
sleepers turning over, now ! ' 

' Caramba ! have done, shipmate, will ye ? It 's the 
three soaked biscuits ye eat for supper turning over inside 
of ye -nothing else. Look to the bucket ! ' 

4 Say what ye will, shipmate ; I 've sharp ears.' 

' Ay, you are the chap, ain't ye, that heard the hum 



of the old Quakeress's knitting-needles fifty miles at sea 
from Nantucket ; you 're the chap.' 

' Grin away ; we '11 see what turns up. Hark ye, 
Cabaco, there is somebody down in the after-hold that 
has not yet been seen on deck ; and I suspect our old 
Mogul knows something of it too. I heard Stubb tell 
Flask, one morning-watch, that there was something of 
that sort in the wind.' 

' Tish ! the bucket ! ' 



HAD you followed Captain Ahab down into his cabin 
after the squall that took place on the night succeeding 
that wild ratification of his purpose with his crew, you 
would have seen him go to a locker in the transom, and 
bringing out a large wrinkled roll of yellowish sea-charts, 
spread them before him on his screwed-down table. Then 
seating himself before it, you would have seen him intently 
study the various lines and shadings which there met his 
eye ; and with slow but steady pencil trace additional 
courses over spaces that before were blank. At intervals, 
he would refer to piles of old log-books beside him, wherein 
were set down the seasons and places in which, on various 
former voyages of various ships, sperm whales had been 
captured or seen. 

While thus employed, the heavy pewter lamp suspended 
foi chains over his head, continually rocked with the motion 
of the ship, and forever threw shifting gleams and shadows 
of lines upon his wrinkled brow, till it almost seemed that 
while he himself was marking out lines and courses on the 
wrinkled charts, some invisible pencil was also tracing 
lines and courses upon the deeply marked chart of his 

But it was not this night in particular that, in the 
solitude of his cabin, Ahab thus pondered over his charts. 
Almost every night they were brought out ; almost every 
night some pencil marks were effaced, and others were 
substituted. For with the charts of all four oceans before 




him, Ahab was threading a maze of currents and eddies, 
with a view to the more certain accomplishment of that 
monomaniac thought of his soul. 

Now, to anyone not fully acquainted with the ways of 
the leviathans, it might seem an absurdly hopeless task 
thus to seek out one solitary creature in the unhooped 
oceans of this planet. But not so did it seem to Ahab, 
who knew the sets of all tides and currents ; and thereby 
calculating the drif tings of the sperm whale's food ; and, 
also, calling to mind the regular, ascertained seasons for 
hunting him in particular latitudes ; could arrive at 
reasonable surmises, almost approaching to certainties, 
concerning the timeliest day to be upon this or that 
ground in search of his prey. 

So assured, indeed, is the fact concerning the periodical- 
ness of the sperm whale's resorting to given waters, that 
many hunters believe that, could he be closely observed 
and studied throughout the world ; were the logs for one 
voyage of the entire whale -fleet carefully collated, then 
the migrations of the sperm whale would be found to 
correspond in invariability to those of the herring -shoals 
or the flights of swallows. On this hint, attempts have 
been made to construct elaborate migratory charts of the 
sperm whale. 1 

Besides, when making a passage from one feeding- 
ground to another, the sperm whales, guided by some 
infallible instinct say, rather, secret intelligence from 

1 Since the above was written, the statement is happily borne out by an 
official circular, issued by Lieutenant Maury, of the National Observatory, 
Washington, April 16th, 1851. By that circular, it appears that precisely 
such a chart is in course of completion ; and portions of it are presented 
in the circular. ' This chart divides the ocean into districts of five degrees 
of latitude by five degrees of longitude ; perpendicularly through each 
of which districts are twelve columns for the twelve months ; and hori- 
zontally through each of which districts are three lines ; one to show the 
number of days that have been spent in each month in every district, and 
the two others to show the number of days in which whales, sperm or 
right, have been seen.' 


the Deity mostly swim in veins, as they are called ; con- 
tinuing their way along a given ocean-line with such 
undeviating exactitude, that no ship ever sailed her 
course, by any chart, with one tithe of such marvellous 
precision. Though, in these cases, the direction taken 
by any one whale be straight as a surveyor's parallel, and 
though the line of advance be strictly confined to its 
own unavoidable, straight wake, yet the arbitrary vein 
in which at these times he is said to swim, generally 
embraces some few miles in width (more or less, as the 
vein is presumed to expand or contract) ; but never 
exceeds the visual sweep from the whale-ship's mast- 
heads, when circumspectly gliding along this magic zone. 
The sum is, that at particular seasons within that breadth 
and along that path, migrating whales may with great 
confidence be looked for. 

And hence not only at substantiated times, upon well- 
known separate feeding-grounds, could Ahab hope to 
encounter his prey ; but in crossing the widest expanses 
of water between those grounds he could, by his art, so 
place and time himself on his way, as even then not to be 
wholly without prospect of a meeting. 

There was a circumstance which at first sight seemed to 
entangle his delirious but still methodical scheme. But 
not so in reality, perhaps. Though the gregarious sperm 
whales have their regular seasons for particular grounds, 
yet in general you cannot conclude that the herds which 
haunted such and such a latitude or longitude this year, 
say, will turn out to be identically the same with those 
that were found there the preceding season ; though 
there are peculiar and unquestionable instances where 
the contrary of this has proved true. In general, the same 
remark, only within a less wide limit, applies to the soli- 
taries and hermits among the matured, aged sperm whales. 
So that though Moby-Dick had in a former year been seen, 


for example, on what is called the Seychelle ground in the 
Indian Ocean, or Volcano Bay on the Japanese coast ; 
yet it did not follow, that were the Pequod to visit either 
of those spots at any subsequent corresponding season, 
she would infallibly encounter him there. So, too, with 
some other feeding -grounds, where he had at times 
revealed himself. But all these seemed only his casual 
stopping-places and ocean-inns, so to speak, not his places 
of prolonged abode. And where Ahab's chances of 
accomplishing his object have hitherto been spoken of, 
allusion has only been made to whatever wayside, ante- 
cedent, extra prospects were his, ere a particular set time 
or place were attained, when all possibilities would become 
probabilities, and, as Ahab fondly thought, every possi- 
bility the next thing to a certainty. That particular set 
time and place were conjoined in the one technical phrase 
the Season-on-the-Line. For there and then, for 
several consecutive years, Moby-Dick had been periodic- 
ally descried, lingering in those waters for a while, as the 
sun, in its annual round, loiters for a predicted interval 
in any one sign of the Zodiac. There it was, too, that 
most of the deadly encounters with the White Whale had 
taken place ; there the waves were storied with his deeds ; 
there also was that tragic spot where the monomaniac old 
man had found the awful motive to his vengeance. But 
in the cautious comprehensiveness and unloitering vigi- 
lance with which Ahab threw his brooding soul into this 
unfaltering hunt, he would not permit himself to rest all 
his hopes upon the one crowning fact above mentioned, 
however flattering it might be to those hopes ; nor in the 
sleeplessness of his vow could he so tranquillise his unquiet 
heart as to postpone all intervening quest. 

Now, the Pequod had sailed from Nantucket at the very 
beginning of the Season-on-the-Line. No possible en- 
deavour then could enable her commander to make the 


great passage southward, double Cape Horn, and then 
running down sixty degrees of latitude arrive in the 
equatorial Pacific in time to cruise there. Therefore, he 
must wait for the next ensuing season. Yet the prema- 
ture hour of the Pequod's sailing had, perhaps, been 
correctly selected by Ahab, with a view to this very com- 
plexion of things. Because, an interval of three hundred 
and sixty-five days and nights was before him ; an inter- 
val which, instead of impatiently enduring ashore, he 
would spend in a miscellaneous hunt ; if by chance the 
White Whale, spending his vacation in seas far remote 
from his periodical feeding-grounds, should turn up his 
wrinkled brow off the Persian Gulf, or in the Bengal Bay, 
or China Seas, or in any other waters haunted by his race. 
So that Monsoons, Pampas, Nor'-Westers, Harmattans, 
Trades ; any wind but the Levanter and Simoom, might 
blow Moby-Dick into the devious zig-zag world-circle of 
the Pequod's circumnavigating wake. 

But granting all this ; yet, regarded discreetly and 
coolly, seems it not but a mad idea, this ; that in the broad 
boundless ocean, one solitary whale, even if encountered, 
should be thought capable of individual recognition from 
his hunter, even as a white-bearded Mufti in the thronged 
thoroughfares of Constantinople ? Yes. For the peculiar 
snow-white brow of Moby-Dick, and his snow-white hump, 
could not but be unmistakable. And have I not tallied 
the whale, Ahab would mutter to himself, as after poring 
over his charts till long after midnight he would throw 
himself back in reveries tallied him, and shall he escape ? 
His broad fins are bored, and scalloped out like a lost 
sheep's ear ! And here, his mad mind would run on in a 
breathless race ; till a weariness and faintness of ponder- 
ing came over him ; and in the open air of the deck he 
would seek to recover his strength. Ah, God ! what 
trances of torments does that man endure who is consumed 


with one unachieved revengeful desire. He sleeps with 
clenched hands ; and wakes with his own bloody nails in 
his palms. 

Often, when forced from his hammock by exhausting 
and intolerably vivid dreams of the night, which, resuming 
his own intense thoughts through the day, carried them 
on amid a clashing of frenzies, and whirled them round 
and round in his blazing brain, till the very throbbing 
of his life-spot became insufferable anguish ; and when, 

was sometimes the case, these spiritual throes in him 
heaved his being up from its base, and a chasm seemed 
opening in him, from which forked flames and lightnings 
shot up, and accursed fiends beckoned him to leap down 
among them ; when this hell in himself yawned beneath 
him, a wild cry would be heard through the ship ; and 
with glaring eyes Ahab would burst from his state-room, 
as though escaping from a bed that was on fire. Yet 
these, perhaps, instead of being the unsuppressible 
symptoms of some latent weakness, or fright at his own 
resolve, were but the plainest tokens of its intensity. For, 
at such times, crazy Ahab, the scheming, unappeasedly 
steadfast hunter of the White Whale ; this Ahab that had 
gone to his hammock, was not the agent that so caused 
him to burst from it in horror again. The latter was the 
eternal, living principle or soul in him ; and in sleep, being 
for the time dissociated from the characterising mind, 
which at other times employed it for its outer vehicle or 
agent, it spontaneously sought escape from the scorching 
contiguity of the frantic thing, of which, for the time, it 
was no longer an integral. But as the mind does not 
exist unless leagued with the soul, therefore it must have 
been that, in Ahab's case, yielding up all his thoughts and 
fancies to his one supreme purpose ; that purpose, by its 
own sheer inveteracy of will, forced itself against gods 
and devils into a kind of self-assumed, independent being 


of its own. Nay, could grimly live and burn, while the 
common vitality to which it was conjoined, fled horror- 
stricken from the unbidden and unfathered birth. There- 
fore, the tormented spirit that glared out of bodily eyes, 
when what seemed Ahab rushed from his room, was for 
the time but a vacated thing, a formless somnambulistic 
being, a ray of living light, to be sure, but without an 
object to colour, and therefore a blankness in itself. God 
help thee, old man, thy thoughts have created a creature 
in thee ; and he whose intense thinking thus makes him 
a Prometheus ; a vulture feeds upon that heart forever ; 
that vulture the very creature he creates. 



So far as what there may be of a narrative in this book ; 
and, indeed, as indirectly touching one or two very inter- 
esting and curious particulars in the habits of sperm 
whales, the foregoing chapter, in its earlier part, is as 
important a one as will be found in this volume ; but 
the leading matter of it requires to be still further and 
more familiarly enlarged upon, in order to be adequately 
understood, and moreover to take away any incredulity 
which a profound ignorance of the entire subject may 
induce in some minds, as to the natural verity of the main 
points of this affair. 

I care not to perform this part of my task methodically ; 
but shall be content to produce the desired impression by 
separate citations of items, practically or reliably known 
to me as a whaleman ; and from these citations, I take 
it, the conclusion aimed at will naturally follow of itself. 

First : I have personally known three instances where 
a whale, after receiving a harpoon, has effected a complete 
escape ; and, after an interval (in one instance of three 
years), has been again struck by the same hand, and slain ; 
when the two irons, both marked by the same private 
cipher, have been taken from the body. In the instance 
where three years intervened between the flinging of the 
two harpoons ; and I think it may have been something 
more than that ; the man who darted them happening, 
in the interval, to go in a trading-ship on a voyage to 
Africa, went ashore there, joined a discovery party, and 



penetrated far into the interior, where he travelled for a 
period of nearly two years, often endangered by serpents, 
savages, tigers, poisonous miasmas, with all the other 
common perils incident to wandering in the heart of un- 
known regions. Meanwhile, the whale he had struck 
must also have been on its travels ; no doubt it had thrice 
circumnavigated the globe, brushing with its flanks all 
the coasts of Africa ; but to no purpose. This man and 
this whale again came together, and the one vanquished 
the other. I say I, myself, have known three instances 
similar to this ; that is in two of them I saw the whales 
struck ; and, upon the second attack, saw the two irons 
with the respective marks cut in them, afterward taken 
from the dead fish. In the three-year instance, it so fell 
out that I was in the boat both times, first and last, and 
the last time distinctly recognised a peculiar sort of huge 
mole under the whale's eye, which I had observed there 
three years previous. I say three years, but I am pretty 
sure it was more than that. Here are three instances, 
then, which I personally know the truth of ; but I have 
heard of many other instances from persons whose veracity 
in the matter there is no good ground to impeach. 

Secondly : It is well known in the sperm whale fishery, 
however ignorant the world ashore maybe of it, that there 
have been several memorable historical instances where a 
particular whale in the ocean has been at distant times 
and places popularly cognisable. Why such a whale 
became thus marked was not altogether arid originally 
owing to his bodily peculiarities as distinguished from 
other whales ; for however peculiar in that respect any 
chance whale may be, they soon put an end to his peculi- 
arities by killing him, and boiling him down into a peculi- 
arly valuable oil. No : the reason was this : that from 
the fatal experiences of the fishery there hung a terrible 
prestige of perilousness about such a whale as there did 


about Rinaldo Rinaldini, insomuch that most fishermen 
were content to recognise him by merely touching their 
tarpaulins when he would be discovered lounging by them 
on the sea, without seeking to cultivate a more intimate 
acquaintance. Like some poor devils ashore that happen 
to know an irascible great man, they make distant unob- 
trusive salutations to him in the street, lest if they pursued 
the acquaintance further, they might receive a summary 
thump for their presumption. 

But not only did each of these famous whales enjoy 
great individual celebrity nay, you may call it an ocean- 
wide renown ; not only was he famous in life and now is 
immortal in forecastle stories after death, but he was 
admitted into all the rights, privileges, and distinctions 
of a name ; had as much a name indeed as Cambyses or 
Caesar. Was it not so, O Timor Tom ! thou famed 
leviathan, scarred like an iceberg, who so long didst lurk 
in the oriental straits of that name, whose spout was oft 
seen from the palmy beach of Ombay ? Was it not so, 
New Zealand Jack ! thou terror of all cruisers that 
crossed their wakes in the vicinity of the Tattoo Land? 
Was it not so, Morquan ! King of Japan, whose lofty 
jet they say at times assumed the semblance of a snow- 
white cross against the sky ? Was it not so, Don 
Miguel ! thou Chilian whale, marked like an old tortoise 
with mystic hieroglyphics upon the back I In plain prose, 
here are four whales as well known to the students of 
Cetacean History as Marius or Sylla to the classic scholar. 

But this is not all. New Zealand Tom and Don Miguel, 
after at various times creating great havoc among the 
boats of different vessels, were finally gone in quest of, 
systematically hunted out, chased and killed by valiant 
whaling-captains, who heaved up their anchors with that 
express object as much in view, as in setting out through 
the Narragansett Woods, Captain Butler of old had it 


in his mind to capture that notorious murderous savage 
Annawon, the headmost warrior of the Indian King 

I do not know where I can find a better place than just 
here, to make mention of one or two other things, which 
to me seem important, as in printed form establishing 
in all respects the reasonableness of the whole story of 
the White Whale, more especially the catastrophe. For 
this is one of those disheartening instances where truth 
requires full as much bolstering as error. So ignorant 
are most landsmen of some of the plainest and most 
palpable wonders of the world, that without some hints 
touching the plain facts, historical and otherwise, of the 
fishery, they might scout at Moby-Dick as a monstrous 
fable, or still worse and more detestable, a hideous and 
intolerable allegory. 

First : Though most men have some vague flitting ideas 
of the general perils of the grand fishery, yet they have 
nothing like a fixed, vivid conception of those perils, 
and the frequency with which they recur. One reason 
perhaps is, that not one in fifty of the actual disasters and 
deaths by casualties in the fishery, ever finds a public 
record at home, however transient and immediately 
forgotten that record. Do you suppose that that poor 
fellow there, who this moment perhaps caught by the 
whale-line off the coast of New Guinea, is being carried 
down to the bottom of the sea by the sounding leviathan 
do you suppose that that poor fellow's name will appear 
in the newspaper obituary you will read to-morrow at 
your breakfast ? No : because the mails are very 
irregular between here and New Guinea. In fact, did 
you ever hear what might be called regular news direct 
or indirect from New Guinea ? Yet I tell you that 
upon one particular voyage which I made to the Pacific, 
among many others we spoke thirty different ships, every 

VOL. j. B 


one of which had had a death by a whale, some of them 
more than one, and three that had each lost a boat's crew. 
For God's sake, be economical with your lamps and 
candles ! not a gallon you burn, but at least one drop of 
man's blood was spilled for it. 

Secondly : People ashore have indeed some indefinite 
idea that a whale is an enormous creature of enormous 
power ; but I have ever found that when narrating to 
them some specific example of this twofold enormousness, 
they have significantly complimented me upon my 
facetiousness ; when, I declare upon my soul, I had no 
more idea of being facetious than Moses, when he wrote 
the history of the plagues of Egypt. 

But fortunately the special point I here seek can be 
established upon testimony entirely independent of my 
own. That point is this : The sperm whale is in some 
cases sufficiently powerful, knowing, and judiciously 
malicious, as with direct aforethought to stave in, utterly 
destroy, and sink a large ship ; and what is more, the 
sperm whale has done it. 

First : In the year 1820 the ship Essex, Captain 
Pollard, of Nantucket, was cruising in the Pacific Ocean. 
One day she saw spouts, lowered her boats, and gave chase 
to a shoal of sperm whales. Ere long, several of the 
whales were wounded ; when, suddenly, a very large 
whale escaping from the boats, issued from the shoal, 
and bore directly down upon the ship. Dashing his 
forehead against her hull, he so stove her in, that in less 
than ' ten minutes ' she settled down and fell over. Not 
a surviving plank of her has been seen since. After the 
severest exposure, part of the crew reached the land in 
their boats. Being returned home at last, Captain 
Pollard once more sailed for the Pacific in command of 
another ship, but the gods shipwrecked him again upon 
unknown rocks and breakers ; for the second time his 


ship was utterly lost, and forthwith forswearing the sea, 
he has never tempted it since. At this day Captain Pollard 
is a resident of Nantucket. I have seen Owen Chace, 
who was chief mate of the Essex at the time of the tragedy ; 
I have read his plain and faithful narrative ; I have 
conversed with his son ; and all this within a few miles 
of the scene of the catastrophe. 1 

Secondly : The ship Union, also of Nantucket, was in 
the year 1 807 totally lost off the Azores by a similar onset, 
but the authentic particulars of this catastrophe I have 
never chanced to encounter, though from the whale- 
hunters I have now and then heard casual allusions to it. 

Thirdly : Some eighteen or twenty years ago Commo- 
dore J , then commanding an American sloop -of -war 

of the first class, happened to be dining with a party of 
whaling-captains, on board a Nantucket ship in the 

1 The following are extracts from Chace's narrative : ' Every fact 
seemed to warrant me in concluding that it was anything but chance 
which directed his operations ; he made two several attacks upon the ship, 
at a short interval between them, both of which, according to their 
direction, were calculated to do us the most injury, by being made ahead, 
and thereby combining the speed of the two objects for the shook ; to 
effect which, the exact manoeuvres which he made were necessary. His 
aspect was most horrible, and such as indicated resentment and fury. He 
came directly from the shoal which we had just before entered, and in 
which we had struck three of his companions, as if fired with revenge for 
their sufferings.' Again : ' At all events, the whole circumstances taken 
together, all happening before my own eyes, and producing, at the time, 
impressions in my mind of decided, calculating mischief, on the part of 
the whale (many of which impressions I cannot now recall), induce me to 
be satisfied that I am correct in my opinion.' 

Here are his reflections some time after quitting the ship, during a 
black night in an open boat, when almost despairing of reaching any 
hospitable shore. ' The dark ocean and swelling waters were nothing ; 
the fears of being swallowed up by some dreadful tempest, or dashed 
upon hidden rocks, with all the other ordinary subjects of fearful con- 
templation, seemed scarcely entitled to a moment's thought ; the dismal- 
looking wreck, and the horrid aspect and revenge of the whale, wholly 
engrossed my reflections until day again made its appearance.' 

In another place p. 45, he speaks of ' the mysterious and mortal 
attack of the animal.' 


harbour of Oahu, Sandwich Islands. Conversation turn- 
ing upon whales, the commodore was pleased to be scepti- 
cal touching the amazing strength ascribed to them by the 
professional gentlemen present. He peremptorily denied, 
for example, that any whale could so smite his stout sloop- 
of-war as to cause her to leak so much as a thimbleful. 
Very good ; but there is more coming. Some weeks after, 
the commodore set sail in this impregnable craft for 
Valparaiso. But he was stopped on the way by a portly 
sperm whale, that begged a few moments' confidential 
business with him. That business consisted in fetching 
the commodore's craft such a thwack, that with all his 
pumps going he made straight for the nearest port to 
heave down and repair. I am not superstitious, but I 
consider the commodore's interview with that whale as 
providential. Was not Saul of Tarsus converted from 
unbelief by a similar fright ? I tell you, the sperm whale 
will stand no nonsense. 

I will now refer you to Langsdorff 's Voyages for a little 
circumstance in point, peculiarly interesting to the writer 
hereof. Langsdorff, you must know by the way, was 
attached to the Russian Admiral Krusenstern's famous Dis- 
co very Expedition in the beginning of the present century. 
Captain Langsdorff thus begins his seventeenth chapter. 

4 By the thirteenth of May our ship was ready to sail, 
and the next day we were out in the open sea, on our way 
to Ochotsh. The weather was very clear and fine, but 
so intolerably cold that we were obliged to keep on our 
fur clothing. For some days we had very little wind ; 
it was not till the nineteenth that a brisk gale from the 
north-west sprang up. An uncommon large whale, the 
body of which was larger than the ship itself, lay almost 
at the surface of the water, but was not perceived by any- 
one on board till the moment when the ship, which was 
in full sail, was almost upon him, so that it was impossible 


to prevent its striking against him. We were thus placed 
in the most imminent danger, as this gigantic creature, 
setting up its back, raised the ship three feet at least out 
of the water. The masts reeled, and the sails fell alto- 
gether, while we who were below all sprang instantly 
upon the deck, concluding that we had struck upon some 
rock ; instead of this we saw the monster sailing off with 
the utmost gravity and solemnity. Captain D'Wolf 
applied immediately to the pumps to examine whether 
or not the vessel had received any damage from the 
shock, but we found that very happily it had escaped 
entirely uninjured.' 

Now, the Captain D'Wolf here alluded to as command- 
ing the ship in question, is a New Englander, who, after 
a long life of unusual adventures as a sea-captain, this 
day resides in the village of Dorchester near Boston. I 
have the honour of being a nephew of his. I have par- 
ticularly questioned him concerning this passage in Langs- 
dorfL He substantiates every word. The ship, however, 
was by no means a large one : a Russian craft built on 
the Siberian coast, and purchased by my uncle after 
bartering away the vessel in which he sailed from home. 

In that up and down manly book of old-fashioned 
adventure, so full, too, of honest wonders the voyage 
of Lionel Wafer, one of ancient Dampier's old chums 
I found a little matter set down so like that just quoted 
from Langsdorff, that I cannot forbear inserting it here 
for a corroborative example, if such be needed. 

Lionel, it seems, was on his way to ' John Ferdi- 
nando,' as he calls the modern Juan Fernandez. ' In 
our way thither,' he says, 'about four o'clock in the 
morning, when we were about one hundred and fifty 
leagues from the Main of America, our ship felt a terrible 
shock, which put our men in such consternation that they 
could hardly tell where they were or what to think ; but 


everyone began to prepare for death. And, indeed, the 
shock was so sudden and violent, that we took it for granted 
the ship had struck against a rock ; but when the amaze- 
ment was a little over, we cast the lead, and sounded, but 
found no ground. * * * The suddenness of the 
shock made the guns leap in their carriages, and several of 
the men were shaken out of their hammocks. Captain 
Davis, who lay with his head on a gun, was thrown out 
of his cabin ! ' Lionel then goes on to impute the shock 
to an earthquake, and seems to substantiate the imputa- 
tion by stating that a great earthquake, somewhere about 
that time,, did actually do great mischief along the Spanish 
land. But I should not much wonder if, in the darkness 
of that early hour of the morning, the shock was after all 
caused by an unseen whale vertically bumping the hull 
from beneath. 

I might proceed with several more examples, one way 
or another known to me, of the great power and malice 
at times of the sperm whale. In more than one instance, 
he has been known, not only to chase the assailing boats 
back to their ships, but to pursue the ship itself, and long 
withstand all the lances hurled at him from its decks. 
The English ship Pusie Hall can tell a story on that head ; 
and, as for his strength, let me say, that there have been 
examples where the lines attached to a running sperm 
whale have, in a calm, been transferred to the ship, and 
secured there ; the whale towing her great hull through 
the water, as a horse walks off with a cart. Again, it is 
very often observed that, if the sperm whale, once struck, 
is allowed time to rally, he then acts, not so often with 
blind rage, as with wilful, deliberate designs of destruction 
to his pursuers ; nor is it without conveying some elo- 
quent indication of his character, that upon being attacked 
he will frequently open his mouth, and retain it in that 
dread expansion for several consecutive minutes. But I 


must be content with only one more and a concluding 
illustration ; a remarkable and most significant one, by 
which you will not fail to see, that not only is the most 
marvellous event in this book corroborated by plain 
facts of the present day, but that these marvels (like all 
marvels) are mere repetitions of the ages ; so that for 
the millionth time we say amen with Solomon Verily 
there is nothing new under the sun. 

In the sixth Christian century lived Procopius, a Chris- 
tian magistrate of Constantinople, in the days when 
Justinian was Emperor and Belisarius general. As many 
know, he wrote the history of his own times, a work every 
way of uncommon value. By the best authorities, he 
has always been considered a most trustworthy and un- 
exaggerating historian, except in some one or two par- 
ticulars, not at all affecting the matter presently to be 

Now, in this history of his, Procopius mentions that, 
during the term of his prefecture at Constantinople, a 
great sea-monster was captured in the neighbouring 
Propontis, or Sea of Marmora, after having destroyed 
vessels at intervals in those waters for a period of more 
than fifty years. A fact thus set down in substantial 
history cannot easily be gainsaid. Nor is there any 
reason it should be. Of what precise species this sea- 
monster was, is not mentioned. But as he destroyed 
ships, as well as for other reasons, he must have been a 
whale ; and I am strongly inclined to think a sperm whale. 
And I will tell you why. For a long time I fancied that 
the sperm whale had been always unknown in the Medi- 
terranean and the deep waters connecting with it. Even 
now I am certain that those seas are not, and perhaps 
never can be, in the present constitution of things, a place 
for his habitual gregarious resort. But further investi- 
gations have recently proved to me, that in modern times 


there have been isolated instances of the presence of the 
sperm whale in the Mediterranean. I am told, on good 
authority, that on the Barbary coast, a Commodore 
Davis of the British navy found the skeleton of a sperm 
whale. Now, as a vessel of war readily passes through 
the Dardanelles, hence a sperm whale could, by the same 
route, pass out of the Mediterranean into the Propontis. 
In the Propontis, as far as I can learn, none of that 
peculiar substance called brit is to be found, the aliment 
of the right whale. But I have every reason to believe 
that the food of the sperm whale squid or cuttle-fish 
lurks at the bottom of that sea, because large creatures, 
but by no means the largest of that sort, have been found 
at its surface. If, then, you properly put these statements 
together, and reason upon them a bit, you will clearly 
perceive that, according to all human reasoning, Pro- 
copius's sea-monster, that for half a century stove the 
ships of a Roman Emperor, must in all probability have 
been a sperm whale. 



THOUGH, consumed with the hot fire of his purpose, 
Ahab in all his thoughts and actions ever had in view the 
ultimate capture of Moby-Dick ; though he seemed ready 
to sacrifice all mortal interests to that one passion ; never- 
theless it may have been that he was by nature and long 
habituation far too wedded to a fiery whaleman's ways, 
altogether to abandon the collateral prosecution of the 
voyage. Or at least if this were otherwise, there were 
not wanting other motives much more influential with 
him. It would be refining too much, perhaps, even con- 
sidering his monomania, to hint that his vindictiveness 
toward the White Whale might have possibly extended 
itself in some degree to all sperm whales, and that the 
more monsters he slew, by so much the more he multiplied 
the chances that each subsequently encountered whale 
would prove to be the hated one he hunted. But if such 
an hypothesis be indeed exceptionable, there were still 
additional considerations which, though not so strictly 
according with the wildness of his ruling passion, yet were 
by no means incapable of swaying him. 

To accomplish his object Ahab must use tools ; and 
of all tools used in the shadow of the moon, men are most 
apt to get out of order. He knew, for example, that 
however magnetic his ascendency in some respects was 
over Starbuck, yet that ascendency did not cover the 
complete spiritual man any more than mere corporeal 
superiority involves intellectual mastership ; for to the 



purely spiritual, the intellectual but stand in a sort of 
corporeal relation. Starbuck's body and Starbuck's 
coerced will were Ahab's, so long as Ahab kept his magnet 
at Starbuck's brain ; still he knew that for all this the 
chief mate, in his soul, abhorred his captain's quest, and 
could he, would joyfully disintegrate himself from it, 
or even frustrate it. It might be that a long interval 
would elapse ere the White Whale was seen. During that 
long interval Starbuck would ever be apt to fall into open 
relapses of rebellion against his captain's leadership, 
unless some ordinary, prudential, circumstantial influ- 
ences were brought to bear upon him. Not only that, 
but the subtle insanity of Ahab respecting Moby-Dick 
was no ways more significantly manifested than in his 
superlative sense and shrewdness in foreseeing that, for 
the present, the hunt should in some way be stripped of 
that strange imaginative impiousness which naturally 
invested it ; that the full terror of the voyage must be 
kept withdrawn into the obscure background (for few 
men's courage is proof against protracted meditation 
unrelieved by action) ; that when they stood their long 
night-watches, his officers and men must have some nearer 
things to think of than Moby-Dick. For however eagerly 
and impetuously the savage crew had hailed the announce- 
ment of his quest ; yet all sailors of all sorts are more or 
less capricious and unreliable they live in the varying 
outer weather, and they inhale its fickleness and when 
retained for any object remote and blank in the pursuit, 
however promissory of life and passion in the end, it is 
above all things requisite that temporary interests and 
employments should intervene and hold them healthily 
suspended for the final dash. 

Nor was Ahab unmindful of another thing. In times of 
strong emotion mankind disdain all base considerations ; 
but such times are evanescent. The permanent con- 


stitutional condition of the manufactured man, thought 
Ahab, is sordidness. Granting that the White Whale 
fully incites the hearts of this my savage crew, and playing 
round their savageness even breeds a certain generous 
knight -errant ism in them, still, while for the love of it 
they give chase to Moby-Dick, they must also have food 
for their more common, daily appetites. For even the 
high lifted and chivalric Crusaders of old times were not 
content to traverse two thousand miles of land to fight 
for their holy sepulchre, without committing burglaries, 
picking pockets, and gaining other pious perquisites by 
the way. Had they been strictly held to their one final 
and romantic object that final and romantic object, 
too many would have turned from in disgust. I will not 
strip these men, thought Ahab, of all hopes of cash ay, 
cash. They may scorn cash now ; but let some months 
go by, and no perspective promise of it to them, and then \ 
this same quiescent cash all at once mutinying in them, 
this same cash would soon cashier Ahab. 

Nor was there wanting still another precautionary 
motive more related to Ahab personally. Having im- 
pulsively, it is probable, and perhaps somewhat pre- 
maturely revealed the prime but private purpose of the 
Pequod's voyage, Ahab was now entirely conscious that, 
in so doing, he had indirectly laid himself open to the 
unanswerable charge of usurpation ; and with perfect 
impunity, both moral and legal, his crew if so disposed, 
and to that end competent, could refuse all further 
obedience to him, and even violently wrest from him the 
command. From even the barely hinted imputation 
of usurpation, and the possible consequences of such 
a suppressed impression gaining ground, Ahab must of 
course have been most anxious to protect himself. That 
protection could only consist in his own predominating 
brain and heart and hand, backed by a heedful, closely 


calculating attention to every minute atmospheric influ- 
ence which it was possible for his crew to be subjected to. 

For all these reasons then, and others perhaps too 
analytic to be verbally developed here, Ahab plainly saw 
that he must still in a good degree continue true to the 
natural, nominal purpose of the Pequod's voyage ; observe 
all customary usages ; and not only that, but force 
himself to evince all his well-known passionate interest 
in the general pursuit of his profession. 

Be all this as it may, his voice was now often heard 
hailing the three mast-heads and admonishing them to 
keep a bright look-out, and not omit reporting even a 
porpoise. This vigilance was not long without reward. 



IT was a cloudy, sultry afternoon ; the seamen were 
lazily lounging about the decks, or vacantly gazing over 
into the lead-coloured waters. Queequeg and I were 
mildly employed weaving what is called a sword-mat, 
for an additional lashing to our boat. So still and 
subdued and yet somehow preluding was all the scene, 
and such an incantation of revelry lurked in the air, 
that each silent sailor seemed resolved into his own 
invisible self. 

I was the attendant or page of Queequeg, while busy 
at the mat. As I kept passing and repassing the filling 
or woof of marline between the long yarns of the warp, 
using my own hand for the shuttle, and as Queequeg, 
standing sideways, ever and anon slid his heavy oaken 
sword between the threads, and idly looking off upon 
the water, carelessly and unthinkingly drove home every 
yarn : I say so strange a dreaminess did there then reign 
all over the ship and all over the sea, only broken by the 
intermitting dull sound of the sword, that it seemed as 
if this were the Loom of Time, and I myself were a shuttle 
mechanically weaving and weaving away at the Fates. 
There lay the fixed threads of the warp subject to but one 
single, ever returning, unchanging vibration, and that 
vibration merely enough to admit of the crosswise inter- 
blending of other threads with its own. This warp 
seemed necessity ; and here, thought I, with my own hand 
I ply my own shuttle and weave my own destiny into these 



unalterable threads. Meantime, Queequeg's impulsive, 
indifferent sword, sometimes hitting the woof slantingly, 
or crookedly, or strongly, or weakly, as the case might 
be ; and by this difference in the concluding blow pro- 
ducing a corresponding contrast in the final aspect of the 
completed fabric ; this savage's sword, thought I, which 
thus finally shapes and fashions both warp and woof ; this 
easy, indifferent sword must be chance ay, chance, free 
will, and necessity no wise incompatible all inter- 
weavingly working together. The straight warp of neces- 
sity, not to be swerved from its ultimate course its every 
/ alternating vibration, indeed, only tending to that ; free 
will still free to ply her shuttle between given threads ; 
and chance, though restrained in its play within the right 
lines of necessity, and sideways in its motions directed 
by free will, though thus prescribed to by both, chance 
by turns rules either, and has the last featuring blow at 



Thus we were weaving and weaving away when I 
I started at a soundjgq strange, long drawn, and musically 
I wild and unearthly, that the ball of free will dropped from 
my hand, and I stood gazing up at the clouds whence that 
voice dropped like a wing. High aloft in the cross-trees 
was that mad Gay-Header, Tashtego. His body was 
reaching eagerly forward, his hand stretched out like a 
wand, and at brief sudden intervals he continued his cries. 
To be sure, the same sound was that very moment perhaps 
being heard all over the seas, from hundreds of whale- 
men's look-outs perched as high in the air ; but from 
few of those lungs could that accustomed old cry have 
derived such a marvellous cadence as from Tashtego the 

As he stood hovering over you half suspended in air, 
so wildly and eagerly peering toward the horizon, you 


would have thought him some prophet or seer beholding 
the shadows of Fate, and by those wild cries announcing 
their coming. 

' There she blows ! there ! there ! there ! she blows ! 
she blows ! ' 

4 Where away ? ' 

' On the lee-beam, about two miles off ! a school of 
them ! ' 

Instantly all was commotion. 

The sperm whale blows as a clock ticks, with the 
same undeviating and reliable uniformity. And thereby 
whalemen distinguish this fish from other tribes of 
his genus. 

' There go flukes ! ' was now the cry from Tashtego ; 
and the whales disappeared. 

4 Quick, steward ! ' cried Ahab. ' Time ! time ! ' 

Dough-Boy hurried below, glanced at the watch, and 
reported the exact minute to Ahab. 

The ship was now kept away from the wind, and she 
went gently rolling before it. Tashtego reporting that 
the whales had gone down heading to leeward, we con- 
fidently looked to see them again directly in advance of 
our bows. For that singular craft at times evinced by 
the sperm whale when, sounding with his head in one 
direction, he nevertheless, while concealed beneath the 
surface, mills round, and swiftly swims off in the opposite 
quarter this deceitfulness of his could not now be in 
action ; for there was no reason to suppose that the fish 
seen by Tashtego had been in any way alarmed, or indeed 
knew at all of our vicinity. One of the men selected for 
ship-keepers that is, those not appointed to the boats 
by this time relieved the Indian at the mainmast-head. 
The sailors at the fore and mizen had come down ; the 
line-tubs were fixed in their places ; the cranes were 
thrust out ; the main-yard was backed, and the three 


boats swung over the sea like three samphire baskets over 
high cliffs. Outside of the bulwarks their eager crews with 
one hand clung to the rail, while one foot was expectantly 
poised on the gunwale. So look the long line of man-of- 
war's men about to throw themselves on board an enemy's 

But at this critical instant a sudden exclamation was 
heard that took every eye from the whale. With a start 
all glared at dark Ahab, who was surrounded by five dusky 
phantoms that seemed fresh formed out of air. 



THE phantoms, for so they then seemed, were flitting on 
the other side of the deck, and, with a noiseless celerity, 
were casting loose the tackles and bands of the boat which 
swung there. This boat had always been deemed one 
of the spare boats, though technically called the captain's, 
on account of its hanging from the starboard quarter. 
The figure that now stood by its bows was tall and swart, 
with one white tooth evilly protruding from its steel-like 
lips. A rumpled Chinese jacket of black cotton funereally 
invested him, with wide black trowsers of the same dark 
stuff. But strangely crowning this ebonness was a 
glistening white plaited turban, the living hair braided 
and coiled round and round upon his head. Less swart 
in aspect, the companions of this figure were of that vivid, 
tiger-yellow complexion peculiar to some of the aboriginal 
natives of the Manillas ; a race notorious for a certain 
diabolism of subtlety, and by some honest white mariners 
supposed to be the paid spies and secret confidential 
agents on the water of the devil, their lord, whose counting- 
room they suppose to be elsewhere. 

While yet the wondering ship's company were gazing 
upon these strangers, Ahab cried out to the white-turbaned 
old man at their head, ' All ready there, Fedallah ? ' 

' Ready,' was the half -hissed reply. 

4 Lower away then ; d' ye hear ? ' shouting across the 
deck. ' Lower away there, I say.' 

Such was the thunder of his voice, that spite of their 

VOL. i. s 


amazement the men sprang over the rail ; the sheaves 
whirled round in the blocks ; with a wallow, the three 
boats dropped into the sea ; while, with a dexterous, off- 
handed daring, unknown in any other vocation, the sailors, 
goat-like, leaped down the rolling ship's side into the 
tossed boats below. 

Hardly had they pulled out from under the ship's lee, 
when a fourth keel, coming from the windward side, 
pulled round under the stern, and showed the five strangers 
rowing Ahab, who, standing erect in the stern, loudly 
hailed Starbuck, Stubb, and Flask, to spread themselves 
widely, so as to cover a large expanse of water. But with 
all their eyes again riveted upon the swart Fedallah and 
his crew, the inmates of the other boats obeyed not the 

' Captain Ahab ? ' said Starbuck. 

' Spread yourselves,' cried Ahab ; ' give way, all four 
boats. Thou, Flask, pull out more to leeward ! ' 

' Ay, ay, sir,' cheerily cried little King-Post, sweeping 
round his great steering -oar. ' Lay back ! ' addressing 
his crew. ' There ! there ! there again ! There she 
blows right ahead, boys ! lay back ! ' 

' Never heed yonder yellow boys, Archy.' 

' Oh, I don't mind 'em, sir,' said Archy ; ' I knew it all 
before now. Didn't I hear 'em in the hold ? And didn't 
I tell Cabaco here of it ? What say ye, Cabaco ? They 
are stowaways, Mr. Flask.' 

' Pull, pull, my fine hearts-alive ; pull, my children ; 
pull, my little ones,' drawlingly and soothingly sighed 
Stubb to his crew, some of whom still showed signs of 
uneasiness. ' Why don't you break your backbones, my 
boys ? What is it you stare at ? Those chaps in yonder 
boat ? Tut ! They are only five more hands come to 
help us never mind from where the more the merrier. 
Pull, then, do pull ; never mind the brimstone devils 


are good fellows enough. So, so ; there you are now ; 
that 's the stroke for a thousand pounds ; that 's the 
stroke to sweep the stakes ! Hurrah for the gold cup 
of sperm oil, my heroes ! Three cheers, men all hearts- 
alive ! Easy, easy ; don't be in a hurry don't be in a 
hurry. Why don't you snap your oars, you rascals ? 
Bite something, you dogs ! So, so, so, then ; softly, 
softly ! That 's it that 's it ! long and strong. Give 
way there, give way ! The devil fetch ye, ye ragamuffin 
rapscallions ; ye are all asleep. Stop snoring, ye sleepers, 
and pull. Pull, will ye ? pull, can't ye ? pull, won't ye ? 
Why in the name of gudgeons and ginger-cakes don't ye 
pull ? pull and break something ! pull, and start your 
eyes out ! Here ! ' whipping out the sharp knife from his 
girdle ; ' every mother's son of ye draw his knife, and pull 
with the blade between his teeth. That J s it that 's it. 
Now ye do something ; that looks like it, my steel-bits. 
Start her start her, my silver-spoons ! Start her, 
marling-spikes ! ' 

Stubb's exordium to his crew is given here at large, 
because he had rather a peculiar way of talking to them 
in general, and especially in inculcating the religion of 
rowing. But you must not suppose from this specimen 
of his sermonisings that he ever flew into downright 
passions with his congregation. Not at all ; and therein 
consisted his chief peculiarity. He would say the most 
terrific things to his crew, in a tone so strangely com- 
pounded of fun and fury, and the fury seemed so calcu- 
lated merely as a spice to the fun, that no oarsman could 
hear such queer invocations without pulling for dear 
life, and yet pulling for the mere joke of the thing. Be- 
sides he all the time looked so easy and indolent himself, 
so loungingly managed his steering-oar, and so broadly 
gaped open-mouthed at times that the mere sight of 
such a yawning commander, by sheer force of contrast, 


acted like a charm upon the crew. Then again, Stubb 
was one of those odd sort of humorists, whose jollity 
is sometimes so curiously ambiguous, as to put all in- 
feriors on their guard in the matter of obeying them. 

In obedience to a sign from Ahab, Starbuck was now 
pulling obliquely across Stubb 's bow ; and when for a 
minute or so the two boats were pretty near to each other, 
Stubb hailed the mate. 

4 Mr. Starbuck ! larboard boat there, ahoy ! a word 
with ye, sir, if ye please ! ' 

' Halloa ! ' returned Starbuck, turning round not a 
single inch as he spoke ; still earnestly but whisperingly 
urging his crew ; his face set like a flint from Stubb 's. 

' What think ye of those yellow boys, sir ? ' 

' Smuggled on board, somehow, before the ship sailed. 
(Strong, strong, boys ! ') in a whisper to his crew, then 
speaking out loud again : ' A sad business, Mr. Stubb ! 
(Seethe her, seethe her, my lads !) but never mind, Mr. 
Stubb, all for the best. Let all your crew pull strong, 
come what will. (Spring, my men, spring !) There 's 
hogsheads of sperm ahead, Mr. Stubb, and that 's what 
ye came for. (Pull, my boys !) Sperm, sperm 's the 
play ! This at least is duty ; duty and profit hand in 
hand ! ' 

' Ay, ay, I thought as much,' soliloquised Stubb, 
when the boats diverged, c as soon as I clapt eye on 'em, 
I thought so. Ay, and that 's what he went into the 
after-hold for, so often, as Dough -Boy long suspected. 
They were hidden down there. The White Whale 's at 
the bottom of it. Well, well, so be it ! Can't be helped ! 
All right ! Give way, men ! It ain't the White Whale 
to-day ! Give way ! ' 

Now the advent of these outlandish strangers at such 
a critical instant as the lowering of the boats from the 
deck, this had not unreasonably awakened a sort of 


superstitious amazement in some of the ship's company ; 
but Archy's fancied discovery having some time previous 
got abroad among them, though indeed not credited then, 
this had in some small measure prepared them for the 
event. It took off the extreme edge of their wonder ; 
and so what with all this and Stubb's confident way of 
accounting for their appearance, they were for the time 
freed from superstitious surmisings ; though the affair 
still left abundant room for all manner of wild conjectures 
as to dark Ahab's precise agency in the matter from the 
beginning. For me, I silently recalled the mysterious 
shadows I had seen creeping on board the Pequod during 
the dim Nantucket dawn, as well as the enigmatical 
hintings of the unaccountable Elijah. 

Meantime, Ahab, out of hearing of his officers, having 
sided the furthest to windward, was still ranging ahead 
of the other boats ; a circumstance bespeaking how potent 
a crew was pulling him. Those tiger-yellow creatures of 
his seemed all steel and whalebone ; like five trip-hammers 
they rose and fell with regular strokes of strength, which 
periodically started the boat along the water like a hori- 
zontal burst boiler out of a Mississippi steamer. As for 
Fedallah, who was seen pulling the harpooneer-oar, he 
had thrown aside his black jacket, and displayed his 
naked chest with the whole part of his body above the 
gunwale, clearly cut against the alternating depressions 
of the watery horizon ; while at the other end of the boat 
Ahab, with one arm, like a fencer's, thrown half backward 
into the air, as if to counterbalance any tendency to trip ; 
Ahab was seen steadily managing his steering -oar as in a j 
thousand boat lowerings ere the White Whale had torn( 
him. All at once the outstretched arm gave a peculiar 
motion and then remained fixed, while the boat's five oars 
were seen simultaneously peaked. Boat and crew sat 
motionless on the sea. Instantly the three spread boats 


in the rear paused on their way. The whales had irregu- 
larly settled bodily down into the blue, thus giving no 
distantly discernible token of the movement, though 
from his closer vicinity Ahab had observed it. 

4 Every man look out along his oars ! ' cried Starbuck. 
' Thou, Queequeg, stand up ! ' 

Nimbly springing up on the triangular raised box in 
the bow, the savage stood erect there, and with intensely 
eager eyes gazed off toward the spot where the chase 
had last been descried. Likewise upon the extreme stern 
of the boat where it was also triangularly platformed level 
with the gunwale, Starbuck himself was seen coolly and 
adroitly balancing himself to the jerking tossings of his 
chip of a craft, and silently eyeing the vast blue eye of 
the sea. 

Not very far distant Flask's boat was also lying breath- 
lessly still ; its commander recklessly standing upon the 
top of the logger-head, a stout sort of post rooted in the 
keel, and rising some two feet above the level of the stern 
platform. It is used for catching turns with the whale - 
line. Its top is not more spacious than the palm of a 
man's hand, and standing upon such a base as that, Flask 
seemed perched at the mast-head of some ship which had 
sunk to all but her trucks. But little King-Post was small 
and short, and at the same time little King-Post was full 
of a large and tall ambition, so that this logger-head stand- 
point of his did by no means satisfy King-Post. 

c I can't see three seas off ; tip us up an oar there, and 
let me on to that.' 

Upon this, Daggoo, with either hand upon the gunwale ' 
to steady his way, swiftly slid aft, and then erecting him- 
self volunteered his lofty shoulders for a pedestal. 

' Good a mast-head as any, sir. Will you mount ? ' 

' That I will, and thank ye very much, my fine fellow ; 
only I wish you fifty feet taller.' 


Whereupon planting his feet firmly against two opposite 
planks of the boat, the gigantic negro, stooping a little, 
presented his flat palm to Flask's foot, and then 
putting Flask's hand on his hearse-plumed head and 
bidding him spring as he himself should toss, with one 
dexterous fling landed the little man high and dry on 
his shoulders. And here was Flask now standing, 
Daggoo with one lifted arm furnishing him with a breast- 
band to lean against and steady himself by. 

At any time it is a strange sight to the tyro to see with 
what wondrous habitude of unconscious skill the whale- 
man will maintain an erect posture in his boat, even when 
pitched about by the most riotously perverse and cross- 
running seas. Still more strange to see him giddily 
perched upon the logger-head itself, under such circum- 
stances. But the sight of little Flask mounted upon 
gigantic Daggoo was yet more curious ; for sustaining 
himself with a cool, indifferent, easy, unthought-of, 
barbaric majesty, the noble negro to every roll of the sea 
harmoniously rolled his fine form. On his broad back, 
flaxen-haired Flask seemed a snow-flake. The bearer 
looked nobler than the rider. Though truly vivacious, 
tumultuous, ostentatious little Flask would now and then 
stamp with impatience ; but not one added heave did he 
thereby give to the negro's lordly chest. So have I seen 
Passion and Vanity stamping the living magnanimous' 
earth, but the earth did not alter her tides and her seasons 
for that. 

Meanwhile Stubb, the third mate, betrayed no such 
far-gazing solicitudes. The whales might have made 
one of their regular soundings, not a temporary dive from 
mere fright ; and if that were the case, Stubb, as his 
wont in such cases, it seems, was resolved to solace the 
languishing interval with his pipe. He withdrew it from 
his hat-band, where he always wore it aslant like a feather. 


He loaded it, and rammed home the loading with his 
thumb-end ; but hardly had he ignited his match across 
the rough sandpaper of his hand, when Tashtego, his 
harpooneer, whose eyes had been setting to windward like 
two fixed stars, suddenly dropped like light from his erect 
attitude to his seat, crying out in a quick frenzy of 
hurry, ' Down, down all, and give way ! there they are ! ' 

To a landsman, no whale, nor any sign of a herring, 
would have been visible at that moment ; nothing but a 
troubled bit of greenish-white water, and thin scattered 
puffs of vapour hovering over it, and suffusingly blowing 
off to leeward, like the confused scud from white rolling 
billows. The air around suddenly vibrated and tingled, 
as it were, like the air over intensely heated plates of 
iron. Beneath this atmospheric waving and curling, and 
partially beneath a thin layer of water, also, the whales 
were swimming. Seen in advance of all the other indi- 
cations, the puffs of vapour they spouted, seemed their 
forerunning couriers and detached flying outriders. 

All four bojits were now in keen pursuit of that one spot 
of troubled water and air. But it bade far to outstrip 
them ; it flew on and on, as a mass of interblending 
bubbles borne down a rapid stream from the hills. 

' Pull, pull, my good boys,' said Starbuck, in the lowest 
possible but intensest concentrated whisper to his men ; 
while the sharp fixed glance from his eyes darted straight 
ahead of the bow, almost seemed as two visible needles 
in two unerring binnacle compasses. He did not say much 
to his crew, though, nor did his crew say anything to him. 
Only the silence of the boat was at intervals startlingly 
pierced by one of his peculiar whispers, now harsh with 
command, now soft with entreaty. 

How different the loud little King-Post. ' Sing out 
and say something, my hearties. Roar and pull, my 
thunderbolts ! Beach me, beach me on their black backs, 


boys ; only do that for me, and 1 11 sign over to you my 
Martha's Vineyard plantation, boys ; including wife and 
children, boys. Lay me on lay me on ! Lord, Lord ! 
but I shall go stark, staring mad ! See ! see that white 
water ! ' And so shouting, he pulled his hat from his 
head, and stamped up and down on it ; then picking it 
up, flirted it far off upon the sea ; and finally fell to 
rearing and plunging in the boat's stern like a crazed 
colt from the prairie. 

' Look at that chap now,' philosophically drawled 
Stubb, who, with his unlighted short pipe, mechanically 
retained between his teeth, at a short distance, followed 
after ' He 's got fits, that Flask has. Fits ? yes, give 
him fits that 's the very word pitch fits into 'em. 
Merrily, merrily, hearts -alive. Pudding for supper, you 
know ; merry 's the word. Pull, babes pull, sucklings 
pull, all. But what the devil are you hurrying about ? 
Softly, softly, and steadily, my men. Only pull, and keep 
pulling ; nothing more. Crack all your backbones, and 
bite your knives hi two that 's all. Take it easy why 
don't ye take it easy, I say, and burst all your livers and 
lungs ! ' 

But what it was that inscrutable Ahab said to that 
tiger-yellow crew of his these were words best omitted 
here ; for you live under the blessed light of the evangelical 
land. Only the infidel sharks in the audacious seas may 
give ear to such words, when, with tornado brow, and 
eyes of red murder, and foam-glued lips, Ahab leaped 
after his prey. 

Meanwhile, all the boats tore on. The repeated specific 
allusions of Flask to ' that whale,' as he called the fictitious 
monster which he declared to be incessantly tantalising 
his boat's bow with his tail these allusions of his were at 
times so vivid and lifelike, that they would cause some 
one or two of his men to snatch a fearful look over the 


shoulder. But this was against all rule ; for the oarsmen 
must put out their eyes, and ram a skewer through their 
necks ; usage pronouncing that they must have no 
organs but ears, and no limbs but arms, in these critical 

It was a sight full of quick wonder and awe ! The vast 
swells of the omnipotent sea ; the surging, hollow roar 
they made, as they rolled along the eight gunwales, like 
gigantic bowls in a boundless bowling-green ; the brief 
suspended agony of the boat, as it would tip for an 
instant on the knife-like edge of the sharper waves, that 
almost seemed threatening to cut it in two ; the sudden 
profound dip into the watery glens and hollows ; the 
keen spurrings and goadings to gain the top of the opposite 
hill ; the headlong, sled-like slide down its other side ; 
all these, with the cries of the headsmen and harpooneers, 
and the shuddering gasps of the oarsmen, with the won- 
drous sight of the ivory Pequod bearing down upon her 
boats with outstretched sails, like a wild hen after her 
screaming brood ; all this was thrilling. Not the raw 
recruit, marching from the bosom of his wife into the fever- 
heat of his first battle ; not the dead man's ghost en- 
countering the first unknown phantom in the other world ; 
neither of these can feel stranger and stronger emotions 
than that man does, who for the first time finds himself 
pulling into the charmed, churned circle of the hunted 
sperm whale. 

The dancing white water made by the chase was now 
becoming more and more visible, owing to the increasing 
darkness of the dun cloud-shadows flung upon the sea. 
The jets of vapour no longer blended, but tilted every- 
where to right and left ; the whales seemed separating 
their wakes. The boats were pulled more apart ; Star- 
buck giving chase to three whales running dead to lee- 
ward. Our sail was now set, and, with the still rising 


wind, we rushed along ; the boat going with such madness 
through the water, that the lee -oars could scarcely be 
worked rapidly enough to escape being torn from the 

Soon we were running through a suffusing wide veil of 
mist ; neither ship nor boat to be seen. 

4 Give way, men,' whispered Starbuck, drawing still 
further aft the sheet of his sail ; ' there is time to kill a 
fish yet before the squall comes. There 's white water 
again ! close to ! Spring ! * 

Soon after, two cries in quick succession on each side 
of us denoted that the other boats had got fast ; but 
hardly were they overheard, when with a lightning-like 
hurtling whisper Starbuck said : ' Stand up ! ' and Quee- 
queg, harpoon in hand, sprang to his feet. 

Though not one of the oarsmen was then facing the 
life and death peril so close to them ahead, yet with their 
eyes on the intense countenance of the mate in the stern 
of the boat, they knew that the imminent instant had 
come ; they heard, too, an enormous wallowing sound 
as of fifty elephants stirring in their litter. Meanwhile 
the boat was still booming through the mist, the waves 
curling and hissing around us like the erected crests of 
enraged serpents. 

' That 's his hump. There, there, give it to him ! ' 
whispered Starbuck. 

A short rushing sound leaped out of the boat ; it was 
the darted iron of Queequeg. Then all in one welded 
commotion came an invisible push from astern, while 
forward the boat seemed striking on a ledge ; the sail 
collapsed and exploded ; a gush of scalding vapour shot 
up near by ; something rolled and tumbled like an earth- 
quake beneath us. The whole crew were half suffocated 
as they were tossed helter-skelter into the white curdling 
cream of the squall. Squall, whale, and harpoon had all 


blended together ; and the whale, merely grazed by the 
iron, escaped. 

Though completely swamped, the boat was nearly 
unharmed. Swimming round it we picked up the floating 
oars, and lashing them across the gunwale, tumbled back 
to our places. There we sat up to our knees in the sea, 
the water covering every rib and plank, so that to our 
downward-gazing eyes the suspended craft seemed a coral 
boat grown up to us from the bottom of the ocean. 

The wind increased to a howl ; the waves dashed their 
bucklers together ; the whole squall roared, forked, and 
crackled around us like a white fire upon the prairie, in 
which, unconsumed, we were burning ; immortal in these 
jaws of death ! In vain we hailed the other boats ; as 
well roar to the live coals down the chimney of a flaming 
furnace as hail those boats in that storm. Meanwhile 
the driving scud, rack, and mist grew darker with the 
shadows of night ; no sign of the ship could be seen. 
The rising sea forbade all attempts to bale out the boat. 
The oars were useless as propellers, performing now the 
office of life-preservers. So, cutting the lashing of the 
waterproof match keg, after many failures Starbuck 
contrived to ignite the lamp in the lantern ; then stretch- 
ing it on a waif -pole, handed it to Queequeg as the standard- 
bearer of this forlorn hope. There, then, he sat, holding 
up that imbecile candle in the heart of that almighty 
forlornness. There, then, he sat, the sign and symbol 
of a man without faith, hopelessly holding up hope in 
the midst of despair. 

Wet, drenched through, and shivering cold, despairing 
of ship or boat, we lifted up our eyes as the dawn came on. 
The mist still spread over the sea, the empty lantern lay 
crushed in the bottom of the boat. Suddenly Queequeg 
started to his feet, hollowing his hand to his ear. We all 
heard a faint creaking, as of ropes and yards hitherto 


muffled by the storm. The sound came nearer and 
nearer ; the thick mists were dimly parted by a huge, 
vague form. Affrighted, we all sprang into the sea as 
the ship at last loomed into view, bearing right down upon 
us within a distance of not much more than its length. 

Floating on the waves we saw the abandoned boat, as 
for one instant it tossed and gaped beneath the ship's 
bows like a chip at the base of a cataract ! and then the 
vast hull rolled over it, and it was seen no more till it 
came up weltering astern. Again we swam for it, were 
dashed against it by the seas, and were at last taken up 
and safely landed on board. Ere the squall came close 
to, the other boats had cut loose from their fish and 
returned to the ship in good time. The ship had given us 
up, but was still cruising, if haply it might light upon some 
token of our perishing, an oar or a lance pole. 



THERE are certain queer times and occasions in this 
strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes this 
whole universe for a vast practical joke, though the wit 
thereof he but dimly discerns, and more than suspects 
that the joke is at nobody's expense but his own. How- 
ever, nothing dispirits, and nothing seems worth while 
disputing. He bolts down all events, all creeds, and 
beliefs, and persuasions, all hard things visible and in- 
visible, never mind how knobby ; as an ostrich of potent 
digestion gobbles down bullets and gun flints. And as 
for small difficulties and worryings, prospects of sudden 
disaster, peril of life and limb ; all these, and death itself, 
seem to him only sly, good-natured hits, and jolly punches 
in the side bestowed by the unseen and unaccountable 
old joker. That odd sort of wayward mood I am speaking 
of, comes over a man only in some time of extreme tribu- 
lation ; it comes in the very midst of his earnestness, so 
that what just before might have seemed to him a thing 
most momentous, now seems but a part of the general 
joke. There is nothing like the perils of whaling to breed 
this free-and-easy sort of genial, desperado philosophy ; 
and with it I now regarded this whole voyage of the 
Pequod, and the great White Whale its object. 

' Queequeg/ said I, when they had dragged me, the 
}ast man, to the deck, and I was still shaking myself in 
my jacket to fling off the water ; ' Queequeg, my fine 
friend, does this sort of thing often happen ? ' Without 



much emotion, though soaked through just like me, he 
gave me to understand that such things did often happen. 

4 Mr. Stubb,' said I, turning to that worthy, who, 
buttoned up in his oil-jacket, was now calmly smoking 
his pipe in the rain ; ' Mr. Stubb, I think I have heard you 
say that of all whalemen you ever met, our chief mate, 
Mr. Starbuck, is by far the most careful and prudent. I 
suppose then, that going plump on a flying whale with your 
sail set in a foggy squall is the height of a whaleman's 
discretion ? ' 

1 Certain. I 've lowered for whales from a leaking 
ship in a gale off Cape Horn.' 

4 Mr. Flask,' said I, turning to little King-Post, who was 
standing close by ; ' you are experienced in these things, 
and I am not. Will you tell me whether it is an unalter- 
able law in this fishery, Mr. Flask, for an oarsman to break 
his own back pulling himself back-foremost into death's 
jaws ? ' 

' Can't you twist that smaller ? ' said Flask. ' Yes, 
that 's the law. I should like to see a boat's crew backing 
water up to a whale face foremost. Ha, ha ! the whale 
would give them squint for squint, mind that ! J 

Here then, from three impartial witnesses, I had a 
deliberate statement of the entire case. Considering, 
therefore, that squalls and capsizings in the water and 
consequent bivouacks on the deep, were matters of 
common -occurrence in this kind of life ; considering that 
at the superlatively critical instant of going on to the 
whale I must resign my life into the hands of him who 
steered the boat oftentimes a fellow who at that very 
moment is in his impetuousness upon the point of scuttling 
the craft with his own frantic stampings ; considering 
that the particular disaster to our own particular boat was 
chiefly to be imputed to Starbuck's driving on to his whale 
almost in the teeth of a squall, and considering that 


Starbuck, notwithstanding, was famous for his great 
heedfulness in the fishery ; considering that I belonged to 
this uncommonly prudent Starbuck 's boat ; and finally 
considering in what a devil's chase I was implicated, 
touching the White Whale : taking all things together, I 
say, I thought I might as well go below and make a rough 
draft of my will. ' Queequeg,' said I, ' come along, you 
shall be my lawyer, executor, and legatee/ 

It may seem strange that of all men sailors should be 
tinkering at their last wills and testaments, but there are 
no people in the world more fond of that diversion. This 
was the fourth time in my nautical life that I had done 
the same thing. After the ceremony was concluded upon 
the present occasion, I felt all the easier ; a stone was 
rolled away from my heart. Besides, all the days I should 
now live would be as good as the days that Lazarus lived 
after his resurrection ; a supplementary clean gain of so 
many months or weeks as the case might be. I survived 
myself ; my death and burial were locked up in my chest. 
I looked round me tranquilly and contentedly, like a quiet 
ghost with a clean conscience sitting inside the bars of a 
snug family vault. 

Now then, thought I, unconsciously rolling up the 
sleeves of my frock, here goes for a cool, collected dive 
at death and destruction, and the devil fetch the hindmost. 


* WHO would have thought it, Flask ! ' cried Stubb. ' If 
I had but one leg you would not catch me in a boat, unless 
maybe to stop the plug-hole with my timber toe. Oh ! 
he 's a wonderful old man ! ' 

' I don't think it so strange, after all, on that account,' 
said Flask. ' If his leg were off at the hip, now, it would 
be a different thing. That would disable him ; but he 
has one knee, and good part of the other left, you know.' 

' I don't know that, my little man ; I never yet saw 

him kneel.' 


Among whale -wise people it has often been argued 
whether, considering the paramount importance of his 
life to the success of the voyage, it is right for a whaling- 
captain to jeopardise that life in the active perils of the 
chase. So Tamerlane's soldiers often argued with tears 
in their eyes, whether that invaluable life of his ought to 
be carried into the thickest of the fight. 

But with Ahab the question assumed a modified aspect. 
Considering that with two legs man is but a hobbling 
wight in all times of danger ; considering that the pursuit 
of whales is always under great and extraordinary diffi- 
culties ; that every individual moment, indeed, then 
comprises a peril ; under these circumstances is it wise 
for any maimed man to enter a whale-boat in the hunt ? 
As a general thing, the joint-owners of the Pequod must 
have plainly thought not. 

VOL. I. T 


Ahab well knew that although his friends at home 
would think little of his entering a boat in certain com- 
paratively harmless vicissitudes of the chase, for the sake 
of being near the scene of action and giving his orders in 
person, yet for Captain Ahab to have a boat actually 
apportioned to him as a regular headsman in the hunt 
above all, for Captain Ahab to be supplied with five extra 
men, as that same boat's crew, he well knew that such 
generous conceits never entered the heads of the owners 
of the Pequod. Therefore he had not solicited a boat's 
crew from them, nor had he in any way hinted his desires 
on that head. Nevertheless he had taken private measure 
of his own touching all that matter. Until Cabaco's 
published discovery, the sailors had little foreseen it, 
though to be sure when, after being a little while out of 
port, all hands had concluded the customary business of 
fitting the whale-boats for service ; when some time after 
this Ahab was now and then found bestirring himself in 
the matter of making thole-pins with his own hands for 
what was thought to be one of the spare boats, and even 
solicitously cutting the small wooden skewers, which 
when the line is running out are pinned over the groove 
in the bow ; when all this was observed in him, and par- 
ticularly his solicitude hi having an extra coat of sheath- 
ing in the bottom of the boat, as if to make it better 
withstand the pointed pressure of his ivory limb ; and 
also the anxiety he evinced in exactly shaping the thigh - 
board, or clumsy cleat, as it is sometimes called, the hori- 
zontal piece in the boat's bow for bracing the knee against 
in darting or stabbing at the whale ; when it was observed 
how often he stood up in that boat with his solitary knee 
fixed in the semicircular depression in the cleat, and 
with the carpenter's chisel gouged out a little here and 
straightened it a little there ; all these things, I say, had 
awakened much interest and curiosity at the time. But 


almost everybody supposed that this particular prepara- 
tive heedfulness in Ahab must only be with a view to the 
ultimate chase of Moby-Dick ; for he had already revealed 
his intention to hunt that mortal monster in person. But 
such a supposition did by no means involve the remotest 
suspicion as to any boat's crew being assigned to that 

Now, with the subordinate phantoms, what wonder 
remained soon waned away ; for in a whaler wonders soon 
wane. Besides, now and then such unaccountable odds 
and ends of strange nations come up from the unknown 
nooks and ash-holes of the earth to man these floating 
outlaws of whalers ; and the ships themselves often pick 
up such queer castaway creatures found tossing about 
the open sea on planks, bits of wreck, oars, whale-boats, 
canoes, blown-off Japanese junks, and what not ; that 
Beelzebub himself might climb up the side and step down 
into the cabin to chat with the captain, and it would not 
create any unsubduable excitement in the forecastle. 

But be all this as it may, certain it is that while the 
subordinate phantoms soon found their place among the 
crew, though still as it were somehow distinct from them, 
yet that hair-turbaned Fedallah remained a muffled 
mystery to the last. Whence he came in a mannerly 
world like this, by what sort of unaccountable tie he soon 
evinced himself to be linked with Ahab's peculiar fortunes; 
nay, so far as to have some sort of a half -hinted influence ; 
Heaven knows, but it might have been even authority 
over him ; all this none knew. But one cannot sustain an 
indifferent air concerning Fedallah. He was such a 
creature as civilised, domestic people in the temperate 
zone only see in their dreams, and that but dimly ; but 
the like of whom now and then glide among the unchang- 
ing Asiatic communities, especially the oriental isles to 
the east of the continent those insulated, immemorial, 


unalterable countries, which even in these modern days 
still preserve much of the ghostly aboriginalness of earth's 
primal generations, when the memory of the first man was 
a distinct recollection, and all men his descendants, un- 
knowing whence he came, eyed each other as real phan- 
toms, and asked of the sun and the moon why they were 
created and to what end ; when though, according to 
Genesis, the angels indeed consorted with the daughters 
of men, the devils also, add the uncanonical Rabbins, 
indulged in mundane amours. 



DAYS, weeks passed, and under easy sail, the ivory Pequod 
had slowly swept across four several cruising-grounds ; 
that off the Azores ; off the Cape de Verdes ; on the 
Plate (so called), being off the mouth of the Bio de la 
Plata ; and the Carrol ground, an unstaked, watery 
locality, southerly from St. Helena. 

It was while gliding through these latter waters that 
one serene and moonlight night, when all the waves rolled 
by like scrolls of silver ; and, by their soft, suffusing 
seethings, made what seemed a silvery silence, not a 
solitude : on such a silent night a silvery jet was seen far ,; 
in advance of the white bubbles at the bow. Lit up by I 
the moon, it looked celestial ; seemed some plumed and 
glittering god uprising from the sea. Fedallah first 
descried this jet. For of these moonlight nights, it was 
his wont to mount to the mainmast-head, and stand a 
look-out there, with the same precision as if it had been 
day. And yet, though herds of whales were seen by 
night, not one whalemen in a hundred would venture a 
lowering for them. You may think with what emotions, 
then, the seamen beheld this old Oriental perched aloft 
at such unusual hours ; his turban and the moon, com- 
panions in one sky. But when, after spending his uniform 
interval there for several successive nights without utter- 
ing a single sound ; when, after all this silence, his un- 
earthly voice was heard announcing that silvery, moon-lit 
jet, every reclining mariner started to his feet as if some 



winged spirit had lighted in the rigging, and hailed the 
mortal crew. ' There she blows ! ' Had the trump of 
judgment blown, they could not have quivered more ; yet 
still they felt no terror ; rather pleasure. For though it 
was a most unwonted hour, yet so impressive was the cry, 
and so deliriously exciting, that almost every soul on 
board instinctively desired a lowering. 

Walking the deck with quick, side -lunging strides, 
Ahab commanded the t '-gallant-sails and royals to be set, 
and every stun' -sail spread. The best man in the ship 
must take the helm. Then, with every mast-head manned, 
the piled-up craft rolled down before the wind. The 
strange, upheaving, lifting tendency of the taffrail breeze 
filling the hollows of so many sails, made the buoyant, 
hovering deck to feel like air beneath the feet ; while 
still she rushed along, as if two antagonistic influences 
were struggling in her one to mount direct to heaven, 1 
the other to drive yawingly to some horizontal goal. H 
And had you watched Ahab's face that night, you would 
have thought that in him also two different things were 
warring. While his one live leg made lively echoes along 
the deck, every stroke of his dead limb sounded like a 
coffin-tap. On life and death this old man walked. But 
though the ship so swiftly sped, and though from every 
eye, like arrows, the eager glances shot, yet the silvery 
jet was no more seen that night. Every sailor swore 
he saw it once, but not a second time. 

This midnight-spout had almost grown a forgotten 
thing, when, some days after, lo ! at the same silent hour, 
it was again announced : again it was descried by all ; 
but upon making sail to overtake it, once more it dis- 
appeared as if it had never been. And so it served us 
night after night, till no one heeded it but to wonder at 
it. Mysteriously jetted into the clear moonlight, or 
starlight, as the case might be ; disappearing again for 


one whole day, or two days, or three ; and somehow 
seeming at every distinct repetition to be advancing still 
further and further in our van, this solitary jet seemed 
forever alluring us on. 

Nor with the immemorial superstition of their race, 
and in accordance with the preternaturalness, as it seemed, 
which in many things invested the Pequod, were there 
wanting some of the seamen who swore that whenever 
and wherever descried ; at however remote times, or in 
however far apart latitudes and longitudes, that unnear- 
able spout was cast by one self-same whale ; and that 
whale, Moby-Dick. For a time, there reigned, too, a 
sense of peculiar dread at this flitting apparition, as if it 
were treacherously beckoning us on and on, in order that 
the monster might turn round upon us, and rend us at 
last in the remotest and most savage seas. 

These temporary apprehensions, so vague but so awful, 
derived a wondrous potency from the contrasting serenity 
of the weather, in which, beneath all its blue blandness, 
some thought there lurked a devilish charm, as for days 
and days we voyaged along, through seas so wearily, 
lonesomely mild, that all space, in repugnance to our 
vengeful errand, seemed vacating itself of life before our 
urn-like prow. 

But, at last, when turning to the eastward, the Cape 
winds began howling around us, and we rose and fell upon 
the long, troubled seas that are there ; when the ivory- 
tusked Pequod sharply bowed to the blast, and gored the 
dark waves in her madness, till, like showers of silver 
chips, the foam-flakes flew over her bulwarks ; then all 
this desolate vacuity of life went away, but gave place 
to sights more dismal than before. 

Close to our bows, strange forms in the water darted 
hither and thither before us ; while thick in our rear flew 
the inscrutable sea-ravens. And every morning, perched 


on our stays, rows of these birds were seen ; and spite 
of our hootings, for a long time obstinately clung to the 
hemp, as though they deemed our ship some drifting, 
uninhabited craft ; a thing appointed to desolation, and 
therefore fit roosting-place for their homeless selves. And 
heaved and heaved, still unrestingly heaved the black 
sea, as if its vast tides were a conscience ; and the great 
mundane soul were in anguish and remorse for the long 
sin and suffering it had bred. 

Cape of Good Hope, do they call ye ? Rather Cape 
Tormentoto, as called of yore ; for long allured by the 
perfidious silences that before had attended us, we found 
ourselves launched into this tormented sea, where guilty 
beings transformed into those fowls and these fish, 
seemed condemned to swim on everlastingly without any 
haven in store, or beat that black air without any horizon. 
But calm, snow-white, and unvarying ; still directing 
its fountain of feathers to the sky ; still beckoning us on 
from before, the solitary jet would at times be descried. 

During all this blackness of the elements, Ahab, though 
assuming for the time the almost continual command 
of the drenched and dangerous deck, manifested the 
gloomiest reserve ; and more seldom than ever addressed 
his mates. In tempestuous times like these, after every- 
thing above and aloft has been secured, nothing more 
can be done but passively to await the issue of the gale. 
Then captain and crew become practical fatalists. So, 
with his ivory leg inserted into its accustomed hole, and 
with one hand firmly grasping a shroud, Ahab for hours 
and hours would stand gazing dead to windward, while an 
occasional squall of sleet or snow would all but congeal 
his very eyelashes together. Meantime, the crew driven 
from the forward part of the ship by the perilous seas 
that burstingly broke over its bows, stood in a line along 
the bulwarks in the waist ; and the better to guard against 


the leaping waves, each man had slipped himself into a 
sort of bow-line secured to the rail, in which he swung as 
in a loosened belt. Few or no words were spoken ; and 
the silent ship, as if manned by painted sailors in wax, 
day after day tore on through all the swift madness and 
gladness of the demoniac waves. By night the same 
muteness of humanity before the shrieks of the ocean 
prevailed ; still in silence the men swung in the bow-lines ; 
still wordless Ahab stood up to the blast. Even when 
wearied nature seemed demanding repose, he would not 
seek that repose in his hammock. Never could Starbuck 
forget the old man's aspect, when one night going down 
into the cabin to mark how the barometer stood, he saw 
him with closed eyes sitting straight in his floor-screwed 
chair ; the rain and half-melted sleet of the storm from 
which he had some time before emerged, still slowly 
dripping from the unremoved hat and coat. On the table 
beside him lay unrolled one of those charts of tides and 
currents which have previously been spoken of. His 
lantern swung from his tightly clenched hand. Though 
the body was erect, the head was thrown back so that the 
closed eyes were pointed toward the needle of the tell- 
tale that swung from a beam in the ceiling. 1 

Terrible old man ! thought Starbuck with a shudder, 
sleeping in this gale, still thou steadfastly eyest thy 

1 The cabin-compass is called the tell-tale, because, without going to 
the compass at the helm, the captain, while below, can inform himself of 
the course of the ship. 



SOUTH-EASTWARD from the Cape, off the distant Crozetts, 
a good cruising -ground for right whalemen, a sail loomed 
ahead, the Goney (Albatross) by name. As she slowly 
drew nigh, from my lofty perch at the foremast -head, I 
had a good view of that sight so remarkable to a tyro in 
the far ocean fisheries a whaler at sea, and long absent 
from home. 

As if the waves had been fullers, this craft was bleached 
like the skeleton of a stranded walrus. All down her 
sides, this spectral appearance was traced with long 
channels of reddened rust, while all her spars and her 
rigging were like the thick branches of trees furred over 
with hoar-frost. Only her lower sails were set. A wild 
sight it was to see her long-bearded look-outs at those 
three mast-heads. They seemed clad in the skins of beasts, 
so torn and bepatched the raiment that had survived 
nearly four years of cruising. Standing in iron hoops 
nailed to the mast, they swayed and swung over a fathom- 
less sea ; and though, when the ship slowly glided close 
under our stern, we six men in the air came so nigh to each 
other that we might almost have leaped from the mast- 
heads of one ship to those of the other ; yet, those for- 
lorn-looking fishermen, mildly eyeing us as they passed, 
said not one word to our own look-outs, while the quarter- 
deck hail was being heard from below. 

' Ship ahoy ! Have ye seen the White Whale ? ' 
But as the strange captain, leaning over the pallid 


bulwarks, was in the act of putting his trumpet to his 
mouth, it somehow fell from his hand into the sea ; and 
the wind now rising amain, he in vain strove to make 
himself heard without it. Meantime, his ship was still 
increasing the distance between. While in various silent 
ways the seamen of the Pequod were evincing their observ- 
ance of this ominous incident at the first mere mention 
of the White Whale's name to another ship, Ahab for a 
moment paused ; it almost seemed as though he would 
have lowered a boat to board the stranger, had not the 
threatening wind forbade. But taking advantage of his 
windward position, he again seized his trumpet, and 
knowing by her aspect that the stranger vessel was a 
Nantucketer and shortly bound home, he loudly hailed 
' Ahoy there ! This is the Pequod, bound round the 
world ! Tell them to address all future letters to the 
Pacific Ocean ! and this time three years, if I am not at 
home, tell them to address them to ' 

At that moment the two wakes were fairly crossed, and 
instantly, then, in accordance with their singular ways, 
shoals of small harmless fish, that for some days before 
had been placidly swimming by our side, darted away 
with what seemed shuddering fins, and ranged themselves 
fore and aft with the stranger's flanks. Though in the 
course of his continual voyagings Ahab must often before 
have noticed a similar sight, yet, to any monomaniac 
man, the veriest trifles capriciously carry meanings. 

' Swim away from me, do ye ? ' murmured Ahab, 
gazing over into the water. There seemed but little in 
the words, but the tone conveyed more of deep helpless 
sadness than the insane old man had ever before evinced. 
But turning to the steersman, who thus far had been 
holding the ship in the wind to diminish her headway, 
he cried out in his old lion voice, ' Up helm ! Keep her 
off round the world ! ' 



Round the world ! There is much in that sound to 
inspire proud feelings ; but whereto does all that circum- 
navigation conduct ? Only through numberless perils 
to the very point whence we started, where those that we 
left behind secure, were all the time before us. 

Were this world an endless plain, and by sailing east- 
ward we could forever reach new distances, and discover 
sights more sweet and strange than any Cyclades or Islands 
of King Solomon, then there were promise in the voyage. 
But in pursuit of those far mysteries we dream of, or in 
tormented chase of that demon phantom that, some time 
or other, swims before all human hearts ; while chasing 
such over this round globe, they either lead us on in 
barren mazes or midway leave us whelmed. 



THE ostensible reason why Ahab did not go on board of the 
whaler we had spoken was this : the wind and sea be- 
tokened storms. But even had this not been the case, 
he would not after all, perhaps, have boarded her judging 
by his subsequent conduct on similar occasions if so it 
had been that, by the process of hailing, he had obtained 
a negative answer to the question he put. For, as it 
eventually turned out, he cared not to consort, even for 
five minutes, with any stranger captain, except he could 
contribute some of that information he so absorbingly 
sought. But all this might remain inadequately esti- 
mated, were not something said here of the peculiar usages 
of whaling-vessels wlfen meeting each other in foreign 
seas, and especially on a common cruising-ground. 

If two strangers crossing the Pine Barrens in New York 
State, or the equally desolate Salisbury Plain in England ; 
if casually encountering each other in such inhospitable 
wilds, these twain, for the life of them, cannot well avoid 
a mutual salutation ; and stopping for a moment to 
interchange the news ; and, perhaps, sitting down for a 
while and resting in concert : then, how much more natural 
that upon the illimitable Pine Barrens and Salisbury Plains 
of the sea, two whaling-vessels descrying each other at the 
ends of the earth off lone Fanning 's Island, or the far 
away King's Mills ; how much more natural, I say, 
that under such circumstances these ships should not only 
interchange hails, but come into still closer, more friendly 
and sociable contact. And especially would this seem to 



be a matter of course, in the case of vessels owned in one 
seaport, and whose captains, officers, and not a few of the 
men are personally known to each other ; and consequently, 
have all sorts of dear domestic things to talk about. 

For the long absent ship, the outward-bounder, per- 
haps, has letters on board ; at any rate, she will be sure 
to let her have some papers of a date a year or two later 
than the last one on her blurred and thumb-worn files. 
And in return for that courtesy, the outward-bound ship 
would receive the latest whaling intelligence from the 
cruising-ground to which she may be destined, a thing of 
the utmost importance to her. And in degree, all this 
will hold true concerning whaling-vessels crossing each 
other's track on the cruising-ground itself, even though 
they are equally long absent from home. For one of them 
may have received a transfer of letters from some third, 
and now far remote vessel ; and some of those letters 
may be for the people of the ship she now meets. Besides, 
they would exchange the whaling news, and have an 
agreeable chat. For not only would they meet with all 
the sympathies of sailors, but likewise with all the peculiar 
congenialities arising from a common pursuit and mutually 
shared privations and perils. 

Nor would difference of country make any very essential 
difference ; that is, so long as both parties speak one lan- 
guage, as is the case with Americans and English. 
Though, to be sure, from the small number of English 
whalers, such meetings do not very often occur, and when 
they do occur there is too apt to be a sort of shyness 
between them ; for your Englishman is rather reserved, 
and your Yankee, he does not fancy that sort of thing 
in anybody but himself. Besides, the English whalers 
sometimes affect a kind of metropolitan superiority over 
the American whalers ; regarding the long, lean Nan- 
tucketer, with his nondescript provincialisms, as a sort 
of sea-peasant. But where this superiority in the English 

THE GAM 303 

whalemen does really consist, it would be hard to say, 
seeing that the Yankees in one day, collectively, kill more 
whales than all the English, collectively, in ten years. 
But this is a harmless little foible in the English whale- 
hunters, which the Nantucketer does not take much to 
heart ; probably, because he knows that he has a few 
foibles himself. 

So, then, we see that of all ships separately sailing the 
sea, the whalers have most reason to be sociable and 
they are so. Whereas, some merchant ships crossing 
each other's wake in the mid- Atlantic, will oftentimes 
pass on without so much as a single word of recognition, 
mutually cutting each other on the high seas, like a brace 
of dandies in Broadway ; and all the time indulging, 
perhaps, in finical criticism upon each other's rig. As 
for men-of-war, when they chance to meet at sea, they 
first go through such a string of silly bowings and scrapings, 
such a ducking of ensigns, that there does not seem to be 
much right-down hearty goodwill and brotherly love 
about it at all. As touching slave-ships meeting, why, they 
are in such a prodigious hurry, they run away from each 
other as soon as possible. And as for pirates, when they 
chance to cross each other's cross-bones, the first hail is, 
' How many skulls ? ' the same way that whalers hail 
' How many barrels ? ' And that question once answered, 
pirates straightway steer apart, for they are infernal 
villains on both sides, and don't like to see overmuch of 
each other's villainous likenesses. 

But look at the godly, honest, unostentatious, hos- 
pitable, sociable, free-and-easy whaler ! What does the 
whaler do when she meets another whaler in any sort of 
decent weather ? She has a ' Gam,' a thing so utterly 
unknown to all other ships that they never heard of the 
name even ; and if by chance they should hear of it, they 
only grin at it, and repeat gamesome stuff about 'spouters' 
and c blubber-boilers,' and such like pretty exclamations. 


Why it is that all merchant seamen, and also all pirates 
and man-of-war's men, and slave-ship sailors, cherish 
such a scornful feeling toward whale-ships ; this is a 
question it would be hard to answer. Because, in the 
case of pirates, say, I should like to know whether that 
profession of theirs has any peculiar glory about it. It 
sometimes ends in uncommon elevation, indeed ; but only 
at the gallows. And besides, when a man is elevated in 
that odd fashion, he has no proper foundation for his 
superior altitude. Hence, I conclude, that in boasting 
himself to be high lifted above a whaleman, in that 
assertion the pirate has no solid basis to stand on. 

But what is a Gam ? You might wear out your index 
finger running up and down the columns of dictionaries, 
and never find the word. Dr. Johnson never attained 
to that erudition ; Noah Webster's ark does not hold it. 
Nevertheless, this same expressive word has now for 
many years been in constant use among some fifteen 
thousand true-born Yankees. Certainly, it needs a 
definition, and should be incorporated into the Lexicon. 
With that view, let me learnedly define it. 

GAM. NOUN A social meeting of two (or more) 
whale-ships, generally on a cruising-ground ; when, after 
exchanging hails, they exchange visits by boats' crews : the 
two captains remaining, for the time, on board of one ship t 
and the two chief mates on the other. 

There is another little item about Gamming which must 
not be forgotten here. All professions have their own 
little peculiarities of detail ; so has the whale-fishery. In 
a pirate, man-of-war, or slave-ship, when the captain 
is rowed anywhere hi his boat, he always sits in the stern- 
sheets on a comfortable, sometimes cushioned seat there, 
and often steers himself with a pretty little milliner's 
tiller decorated with gay cords and ribbons. But the 
whale-boat has no seat astern, no sofa of that sort what- 

THE GAM 305 

ever, and no tiller at all. High times indeed, if whaling- 
captains were wheeled about the water on castors like 
gouty old aldermen in patent chairs. And as for a tiller, 
the whale-boat never admits of any such effeminacy ; and 
therefore as in gamming a complete boat's crew must 
leave the ship, and hence as the boat steerer or harpooneer 
is of the number, that subordinate is the steersman upon 
the occasion, and the captain, having no place to sit in, 
is pulled off to his visit all standing like a pine-tree. And 
often you will notice that being conscious of the eyes of 
the whole visible world resting on him from the sides of 
the two ships, this standing captain is all alive to the 
importance of sustaining his dignity by maintaining his 
legs. Nor is this any very easy matter ; for in his rear 
is the immense projecting steering-oar hitting him now 
and then in the small of his back, the after-oar reciprocat- 
ing by rapping his knees in front. He is thus completely 
wedged before and behind, and can only expand himself 
sideways by settling down on his stretched legs ; but a 
sudden, violent pitch of the boat will often go far to topple 
him, because length of foundation is nothing without 
corresponding breadth. Merely make a spread angle of 
two poles, and you cannot stand them up. Then, again, 
it would never do in plain sight of the world's riveted 
eyes, it would never do, I say, for this straddling captain 
to be seen steadying himself the slightest particle by 
catching hold of anything with his hands ; indeed, as 
token of his entire, buoyant self-command, he generally 
carries his hands in his trowsers' pockets ; but perhaps 
being generally very large, heavy hands, he carries them 
there for ballast. Nevertheless there have occurred 
instances, well authenticated ones too, where the captain 
has been known for an uncommonly critical moment or 
two, in a sudden squall, say to seize hold of the nearest 
oarsman's hair, and hold on there like grim death. 
VOL. i. u 



(As told at the Golden Inn.) 

THE Cape of Good Hope, and all the watery region round 
about there, is much like some noted four corners of a 
great highway, where you meet more travellers than in 
any other part. 

It was not very long after speaking the Goney that 
another homeward-bound whaleman, the Town-Ho? was 
encountered. She was manned almost wholly by Poly- 
nesians. In the short gam that ensued she gave us strong 
news of Moby-Dick. To some the general interest in the 
White Whale was now wildly heightened by a circumstance 
of the Town-Ho' s story, which seemed obscurely to in- 
volve with the whale a certain wondrous, inverted visi- 
tation of one of those so-called judgments of God which 
at times are said to overtake some men. This latter 
circumstance, with its own particular accompaniments, 
forming what may be called the secret part of the tragedy 
about to be narrated, never reached the ears of Captain 
Ahab or his mates. For that secret part of the story was 
unknown to the captain of the Town-Ho himself. It was 
the private property of three confederate white seamen 
of that ship, one of whom, it seems, communicated it to 
Tashtego with Romish injunctions of secrecy, but the 
following night Tashtego rambled in his sleep, 

1 The ancient whale-cry upon first sighting a whale from the mast-1 
still used by \vhalemen in hunting the famous Gallipagos terrapin. 


revealed so much of it in that way, that when he was 
wakened he could not well withhold the rest. Neverthe- 
less, so potent an influence did this thing have on those 
seamen in the Pequod who came to the full knowledge of 
it, and by such a strange delicacy, to call it so, were they 
governed in this matter, that they kept the secret among 
themselves so that it never transpired abaft the Peqiwd's 
mainmast. Interweaving in its proper place this darker 
thread with the story as publicly narrated on the ship, 
the whole of this strange affair I now proceed to put on 
lasting record. 

For my humour's sake, I shall preserve the style in 
which I once narrated it at Lima, to a lounging circle of 
my Spanish friends, one saint's eve, smoking upon the 
thick-gilt tiled piazza of the Golden Inn. Of those fine 
cavaliers, the young Dons, Pedro and Sebastian, were on 
the closer terms with me ; and hence the interluding 
questions they occasionally put, and which are duly 
answered at the time. 

4 Some two years prior to my first learning the events 
which I am about rehearsing to you, gentlemen, the Town- 
Ho, sperm whaler of Nantucket, was cruising in your 
Pacific here, not very many days' sail westward from the 
eaves of this good Golden Inn. She was somewhere 
to the northward of the Line. One morning upon hand- 
ling the pumps, according to daily usage, it was observed 
that she made more water in her hold than common. 
They supposed a sword-fish had stabbed her, gentlemen. 
But the captain, having some unusual reason for believing 
that rare good luck awaited him in those latitudes, and 
therefore being very averse to quit them ; and the leak 
not being then considered at all dangerous, though, 
indeed, they could not find it after searching the hold as 
low down as was possible in rather heavy weather ; the 
ship still continued her cruisings, the mariners working 


at the pumps at wide and easy intervals ; but no good luck 
came ; more days went by, and not only was the leak yet 
undiscovered, but it sensibly increased. So much so, 
that now taking some alarm, the captain, making all sail, 
stood away for the nearest harbour among the islands, 
there to have his hull hove out and repaired. 

4 Though no small passage was before her, yet, if the 
commonest chance favoured, he did not at all fear that 
his ship would founder by the way, because his pumps 
were of the best, and being periodically relieved at them, 
those six-and-thirty men of his could easily keep the ship 
free ; never mind if the leak should double on her. In 
truth, well-nigh the whole of this passage being attended 
by very prosperous breezes, the Town-Ho had all but 
certainly arrived in perfect safety at her port without 
the occurrence of the least fatality, had it not been for the 
brutal overbearing of Radney, the mate, a Vineyarder, and 
the bitterly provoked vengeance of Steelkilt, a Lakeman 
and desperado from Buffalo. 

' " Lakeman ! Buffalo ! Pray, what is a Lakeman, 
and where is Buffalo ? " said Don Sebastian, rising in his 
swinging mat of grass. 

' On the eastern shore of our Lake Erie, Don ; but 
I crave your courtesy maybe, you shall soon hear 
further of all that. Now, gentlemen, in square-sail brigs 
and three-masted ships, well-nigh as large and stout as 
any that ever sailed out of your old Callao to far Manilla ; 
this Lakeman, in the land-locked heart of our America, 
had yet been nurtured by all those agrarian freebooting 
impressions popularly connected with the open ocean. 
For in their interflowing aggregate, those grand fresh- 
water seas of ours, Erie, and Ontario, and Huron, and 
Superior, and Michigan, possess an ocean -like expansive- 
ness, with many of the ocean's noblest traits ; with many 
of its rimmed varieties of races and of climes. They 


contain round archipelagoes of romantic isles, even as the 
Polynesian waters do ; in large part, are shored by two 
great contrasting nations, as the Atlantic is ; they furnish 
long maritime approaches to our numerous territorial 
colonies from the East, dotted all round their banks ; ; 
here and there are frowned upon by batteries, and by 
the goat-like craggy guns of lofty Mackinaw ; they have 
heard the fleet thunderings of naval victories ; at intervals 
they yield their beaches to wild barbarians, whose red- 
painted faces flash from out their peltry wigwams ; for 
leagues and leagues are flanked by ancient and unentered 
forests, where the gaunt pines stand like serried lines of 
kings in Gothic genealogies ; those same woods harbour- 
ing wild Afric beasts of prey, and silken creatures whose 
exported furs give robes to Tartar emperors ; they mirror 
the paved capitals of Buffalo and Cleveland, as well as 
Winnebago villages ; they float alike the full-rigged 
merchant ship, the armed cruiser of the State, the steamer, 
and the beech canoe ; they are swept by Borean and dis- 
masting blasts as direful as any that lash the salted wave ; 
they know what shipwrecks are, for out of sight of land, 
however inland, they have drowned full many a midnight 
ship with all its shrieking crew. Thus, gentlemen, though 
an inlander, Steelkilt was wild-ocean born, and wild- 
ocean nurtured ; as much of an audacious mariner as 
any. And for Radney, though in his infancy he may have 
laid him down on the lone Nantucket beach, to nurse at 
his maternal sea ; though in after life he had long followed 
our austere Atlantic and your contemplative Pacific ; yet 
was he quite as vengeful and full of social quarrel as the 
backwoods seaman, fresh from the latitudes of buck-horn 
handled bowie-knives. Yet was this Nantucketer a man 
with some good-hearted traits ; and this Lakeman, a 
mariner, who though a sort of devil indeed, might yet by 
inflexible firmness, only tempered by that common 


decency of human recognition which is the meanest 
slave's right ; thus treated, this Steelkilt had long been 
retained harmless and docile. At all events, he had 
proved so thus far ; but Radney was doomed and made 
mad, and Steelkilt but, gentlemen, you shall hear. 

' It was not more than a day or two at the furthest 
after pointing her prow for her island haven, that the 
Town-Ho's leak seemed again increasing, but only so as 
to require an hour or more at the pumps every day. You 
must know that in a settled and civilised ocean like our 
Atlantic, for example, some skippers think little of pump- 
ing their whole way across it ; though of a still, sleepy 
night, should the officer of the deck happen to forget his 
duty in that respect, the probability would be that he 
and his shipmates would never again remember it, on 
account of all hands gently subsiding to the bottom. Nor 
in the solitary and savage seas far from you to the west- 
ward, gentlemen, is it altogether unusual for ships to 
keep clanging at their pump-handles in full chorus even 
for a voyage of considerable length ; that is, if it lie along 
a tolerably accessible coast, or if any other reasonable 
retreat is afforded them. It is only when a leaky vessel 
is in some very out-of-the-way part of those waters, some 
really landless latitude, that her captain begins to feel 
a little anxious. 

' Much this way had it been with the Town-Ho \ so 
when her leak was found gaining once more, there was 
in truth some small concern manifested by several of her 
company ; especially by Radney the mate. He com- 
manded the upper sails to be well hoisted, sheeted home 
anew, and every way expanded to the breeze. Now this 
Radney, I suppose, was as little of a coward, and as little 
inclined to any sort of nervous apprehensiveness touching 
his own person, as any fearless, unthinking creature on 
land or on sea that you can conveniently imagine, gentle- 


men. Therefore when he betrayed this solicitude about 
the safety of the ship, some of the seamen declared that 
it was only on account of his being a part owner in her. 
So when they were working that evening at the pumps, 
there was on this head no small gamesomeness slyly going 
on among them, as they stood with their feet continually 
overflowed by the rippling clear water clear as any 
mountain spring, gentlemen that bubbling from the 
pumps ran across the deck, and poured itself out in steady 
spouts at the lee scupper-holes. 

4 Now, as you well know, it is not seldom the case hi 
this conventional world of ours watery or otherwise ; 
that when a person placed in command over his fellow- 
men finds one of them to be very significantly his superior 
in general pride of manhood, straightway against that 
man he conceives an unconquerable dislike and bitterness ; 
and if he have a chance he will pull down and pulverise that 
subaltern's tower, and make a little heap of dust of it. 
Be this conceit of mine as it may, gentlemen, at all events 
Steelkilt was a tall and noble animal with a head like a 
Roman, and a flowing golden beard like the tasselled 
housings of your last viceroy's snorting charger ; and a 
brain, and a heart, and a soul in him, gentlemen, which 
had made Steelkilt Charlemagne, had he been born son 
to Charlemagne's father. But Radney, the mate, was 
ugly as a mule ; yet as hardy, as stubborn, as malicious. 
He did not love Steelkilt, and Steelkilt knew it. 

' Espying the mate drawing near as he was toiling at 
the pump with the rest, the Lakeman affected not to 
notice him, but unawed, went on with his gay banterings. 

' " Ay, ay, my merry lads, it 's a lively leak this ; 
hold a cannikin, one of ye, and let 's have a taste. By the 
Lord, it 's worth bottling ! I tell ye what, men, old Rad's 
investment must go for it ! he had best cut away his part 
of the hull and tow it home. The fact is, boys, that sword- 


fish only began the job ; he 's come back again with a 
gang of ship-carpenters, saw-fish, and file-fish, and what 
not ; and the whole posse of 'em are now hard at work 
cutting and slashing at the bottom ; making improve- 
ments, I suppose. If old Rad were here now, I 'd tell 
him to jump overboard and scatter 'em. They 're play- 
ing the devil with his estate, I can tell him. But he 's a 
simple old soul, Rad, and a beauty too. Boys, they say 
the rest of his property is invested in looking-glasses. I 
wonder if he 'd give a poor devil like me the model of his 

' " Damn your eyes ! what 's that pump stopping f or ? " 
roared Radney, pretending not to have heard the sailors' 
talk. " Thunder away at it ! " 

" Ay, ay, sir," said Steelkilt, merry as a cricket. 
" Lively, boys, lively, now ! " And with that the pump 
clanged like fifty fire-engines ; the men tossed their hats 
off to it, and ere long that peculiar gasping of the lungs 
was heard which denotes the fullest tension of life's 
utmost energies. 

' Quitting the pump at last, with the rest of his band, 
the Lakeman went forward all panting, and sat himself 
down on the windlass ; his face fiery red, his eyes blood- 
shot, and wiping the profuse sweat from his brow. Now 
what cozening fiend it was, gentlemen, that possessed 
Radney to meddle with such a man in that corporeally 
exasperated state, I know not ; but so it happened. In- 
tolerably striding along the deck, the mate commanded 
him to get a broom and sweep down the planks, and also 
a shovel, and remove some offensive matters consequent 
upon allowing a pig to run at large. 

' Now, gentlemen, sweeping a ship's deck at sea is a 
piece of household work which in all times but raging 
gales is regularly attended to every evening ; it has been 
known to be done in the case of ships actually foundering 


at the time. Such, gentlemen, is the inflexibility of sea- 
usages and the instinctive love of neatness in seamen ; 
some of whom would not willingly drown without first 
washing their faces. But in all vessels this broom business 
is the prescriptive province of the boys, if boys there be 
aboard. Besides, it was the stronger men in the Town-Ho 
that had been divided into gangs, taking turns at the 
pumps ; and being the most athletic seaman of them all, 
Steelkilt had been regularly assigned captain of one of 
the gangs ; consequently he should have been freed from 
any trivial business not connected with truly nautical 
duties, such being the case with his comrades. I mention 
all these particulars so that you may understand exactly 
how this affair stood between the two men. 

' But there was more than this : the order about the 
shovel was almost as plainly meant to sting and insult 
Steelkilt, as though Radney had spat in his face. Any 
man who has gone sailor in a whale-ship will understand 
this ; and all this and doubtless much more, the Lakeman 
fully comprehended when the mate uttered his command. 
But as he sat still for a moment, and as he steadfastly 
looked into the mate's malignant eye and perceived the 
stacks of powder-casks heaped up in him and the slow- 
match silently burning along toward them ; as he in- 
stinctively saw all this, that strange forbearance and un- 
willingness to stir up the deeper passionateness in any 
already ireful being a repugnance most felt, when felt 
at all, by really valiant men even when aggrieved this 
nameless phantom feeling, gentlemen, stole over Steelkilt. 

' Therefore, in his ordinary tone, only a little broken 
by the bodily exhaustion he was temporarily in, he an- 
swered him saying that sweeping the deck was not his 
business, and he would not do it. And then, without at 
all alluding to the shovel, he pointed to three lads as the 
customary sweepers ; who, not being billeted at the 


pumps, had done little or nothing all day. To this, 
Radney replied with an oath, in a most domineering and 
outrageous manner unconditionally reiterating his com- 
mand ; meanwhile advancing upon the still seated Lake- 
man, with an uplifted cooper's club hammer which he had 
snatched from a cask near by. 

' Heated and irritated as he was by his spasmodic toil 
at the pumps, for all his first nameless feeling of forbear- 
ance the sweating Steelkilt could but ill brook this bearing 
in the mate ; but somehow still smothering the conflagra- 
tion within him, without speaking he remained doggedly 
rooted to his seat, till at last the incensed Radney shook 
the hammer within a few inches of his face, furiously 
commanding him to do his bidding. 

4 Steelkilt rose, and slowly retreating round the wind- 
lass, steadily followed by the mate with his menacing 
hammer, deliberately repeated his intention not to obey. 
Seeing, however, that his forbearance had not the slightest 
effect, by an awful and unspeakable intimation with his 
twisted hand he warned off the foolish and infatuated 
man ; but it was to no purpose. And in this way the 
two went once slowly round the windlass ; when, resolved 
at last no longer to retreat, bethinking him that he had 
now forborne as much as comported with his humour, 
the Lakeman paused on the hatches and thus spoke to 
the officer : 

1 " Mr. Radney, I will not obey you. Take that 
hammer away, or look to yourself." But the predestin- 
ated mate coming still closer to him, where the Lakeman 
stood fixed, now shook the heavy hammer within an inch 
of his teeth ; meanwhile repeating a string of insufferable 
maledictions. Retreating not the thousandth part of an 
inch ; stabbing him in the eye with the unflinching 
poniard of his glance, Steelkilt, clenching his right hand 
behind him and creepingly drawing it back, told his perse- 


cutor that if the hammer but grazed his cheek he (Steel- 
kilt) would murder him. But, gentlemen, the fool had 
been branded for the slaughter by the gods. Immediately 
the hammer touched the cheek ; the next instant the 
lower jaw of the mate was stove in his head ; he fell on 
the hatch spouting blood like a whale. 

* Ere the cry could go aft Steelkilt was shaking one of 
the backstays leading far aloft to where two of his com- 
rades were standing their mast-heads. They were both 

' " Canallers ! " cried Don Pedro. " We have seen 
many whale -ships in our harbours, but never heard of 
your Canallers. Pardon : who and what are they ? " 

' " Canallers, Don, are the boatmen belonging to our 
grand Erie Canal. You must have heard of it." 

' " Nay, Senor ; hereabouts in this dull, warm, most 
lazy, and hereditary land, we know but little of your 
vigorous North." 

' " Ay ? Well then, Don, refill my cup. Your 
chicha 's very fine ; and ere proceeding further I will tell 
ye what our Canallers are ; for such information may 
throw side-light upon my story." 

4 For three hundred and sixty miles, gentlemen, through 
the entire breadth of the state of New York ; through 
numerous populous cities and most thriving villages ; 
through long, dismal, uninhabited swamps, and affluent, 
cultivated fields, unrivalled for fertility ; by billiard- 
room and bar-room ; through the holy-of-holies of great 
forests ; on Roman arches over Indian rivers ; through 
sun and shade ; by happy hearts or broken ; through 
all the wide contrasting scenery of those noble Mohawk 
counties ; and especially, by rows of snow-white chapels, 
whose spires stand almost like milestones, flows one con- 
tinual stream of Venetianly corrupt and often lawless life. 
There 's your true Ashantee, gentlemen ; there howl your 


pagans ; where you ever find them, next door to you ; 
under the long-flung shadow, and the snug patronising 
lee of churches. For by some curious fatality, as it is 
often noted of your metropolitan freebooters that they 
ever encamp around the halls of justice, so sinners, gentle- 
men, most abound in holiest vicinities. 

4 " Is that a friar passing ? " said Don Pedro, looking 
downward into the crowded plaza, with humorous 

' " Well for our northern friend, Dame Isabella's In- 
quisition wanes in Lima," laughed Don Sebastian. " Pro- 
ceed, Senor." 

' " A moment ! Pardon ! " cried another of the com- 
pany. " In the name of all us Limeese, I but desire to 
express to you, sir sailor, that we have by no means over- 
looked your delicacy in not substituting present Lima 
for distant Venice in your corrupt comparison. Oh ! do 
not bow and look surprised ; you know the proverb all 
along this coast 'Corrupt as Lima.' It but bears out 
your saying, too ; churches more plentiful than billiard- 
tables, and forever open and ' Corrupt as Lima.' So, 
too, Venice ; I have been there ; the holy city of the 
blessed evangelist, St. Mark ! St. Dominic, purge it ! 
Your cup ! Thanks : here I refill ; now, you pour out 

1 Freely depicted in his own vocation, gentlemen, the 
Canaller would make a fine dramatic hero, so abundantly 
and picturesquely wicked is he. Like Mark Antony, for 
days and days along his green-turfed, flowery Nile, he 
indolently floats, openly toying with his red-cheeked 
Cleopatra, ripening his apricot thigh upon the sunny deck. 
But ashore, all this effeminacy is dashed. The brigandish 
guise which the Canaller so proudly sports, his slouched 
and gaily -ribboned hat, betoken his grand features. A 
terror to the smiling innocence of the villages through 


which he floats ; his swart visage and bold swagger are 
not unshunned in cities. Once a vagabond on his own 
canal, I have received good turns from one of these 
Canallers ; I thank him heartily ; would fain be not 
ungrateful ; but it is often one of the prime redeeming 
qualities of your man of violence, that at times he has 
as stiff an arm to back a poor stranger in a strait, as to 
plunder a wealthy one. In sum, gentlemen, what the 
wildness of this canal life is, is emphatically evinced by 
this ; that our wild whale-fishery contains so many of 
its most finished graduates, and that scarce any race of 
mankind, except Sydney men, are so much distrusted by 
our whaling-captains. Nor does it at all diminish the 
curiousness of this matter, that to many thousands of our 
rural boys and young men born along its line, the pro- 
bationary life of the Grand Canal furnishes the sole tran- 
sition between quietly reaping in a Christian corn-field, 
and recklessly ploughing the waters of the most barbaric 

' " I see ! I see ! " impetuously exclaimed Don Pedro, 
spilling his chicha upon his silvery ruffles. " No need to 
travel ! The world 5 s one Lima. I had thought, now, 
that at your temperate North the generations were cold 
and holy as the hills. But the story." 

' I left off, gentlemen, where the Lakeman shook the 
backstay. Hardly had he done so, when he was sur- 
rounded by the three junior mates and the four har- 
pooneers, who all crowded him to the deck. But sliding 
down the ropes like baleful comets, the two Canallers 
rushed into the uproar, and sought to drag their man out 
of it toward the forecastle. Others of the sailors joined 
with them in this attempt, and a twisted turmoil ensued ; 
while standing out of harm's way, the valiant captain 
danced up and down with a whale-pike, calling upon his 
officers to manhandle that atrocious scoundrel, and smoke 


him along to the quarter-deck. At intervals, he ran close 
up to the revolving border of the confusion, and prying 
into the heart of it with his pike, sought to prick out the 
object of his resentment. But Steelkilt and his desper- 
adoes were too much for them all ; they succeeded in 
gaining the forecastle deck, where, hastily slewing about 
three or four large casks in a line with the windlass, these 
sea-Parisians entrenched themselves behind the barricade. 

' " Come out of that, ye pirates ! " roared the captain, 
now menacing them with a pistol in each hand, just 
brought to him by the steward. " Come out of that, ye 
cut -throats ! " 

' Steelkilt leaped on the barricade, and striding up and 
down there, defied the worst the pistols could do ; but 
gave the captain to understand distinctly, that his (Steel- 
kilt's) death would be the signal for a murderous mutiny 
on the part of all hands. Fearing in his heart lest this 
might prove but too true, the captain a little desisted, but 
still commanded the insurgents instantly to return to 
their duty. 

' " Will you promise not to touch us, if we do ? " 
demanded their ringleader. 

' " Turn to ! turn to ! I make no promise ; to your 
duty ! Do you want to sink the ship, by knocking off 
at a time like this ? Turn to ! " and he once more raised 
a pistol. 

' " Sink the ship ! " cried Steelkilt. " Ay, let her 
sink. Not a man of us turns to, unless you swear not to 
raise a rope-yarn against us. What say ye, men 1 " 
turning to his comrades. A fierce cheer was their response. 

' The Lakeman now patrolled the barricade, all the 
while keeping his eye on the captain, and jerking out such 
sentences as these : "It 's not our fault ; we didn't 
want it ; I told him to take his hammer away ; it was 
boy 3 s business ; he might have known me before this ; 


I told him not to prick the buffalo ; I believe I have broken 
a finger here against his cursed jaw ; ain't those mincing- 
knives down in the forecastle there, men ? look to those 
handspikes, my hearties. Captain, by God, look to 
yourself ; say the word ; don't be a fool ; forget it all ; 
we are ready to turn to ; treat us decently, and we 're 
your men ; but we won't be flogged." 

' " Turn to ! I make no promises, turn to, I say ! " 

' " Look ye, now," cried the Lake man, flinging out his 
arm toward him, " there are a few of us here (and I am 
one of them) who have shipped for the cruise, d' ye see ; 
now as you well know, sir, we can claim our discharge as 
soon as the anchor is down ; so we don't want a row ; it 's 
not our interest ; we want to be peaceable ; we are ready 
to work, but we won't be flogged." 

' " Turn to ! " roared the captain. 

* Steelkilt glanced round him a moment, and then 
said : " I tell you what it is now, captain, rather than 
kill ye, and be hung for such a shabby rascal, we won't 
lift a hand against ye unless ye attack us ; but till you 
say the word about not flogging us, we don't do a hand's 

6 " Down into the forecastle then, down with ye, I '11 
keep ye there till ye 're sick of it. Down ye go." 

' " Shall we ? " cried the ringleader to his men. Most 
of them were against it ; but at length, in obedience to 
Steelkilt, they preceded him down into their dark den, 
growlingly disappearing, like bears into a cave. 

' As the Lakeman's bare head was just level with the 
planks, the captain and his posse leaped the barricade, 
and rapidly drawing over the slide of the scuttle, planted 
their group of hands upon it, and loudly called for the 
steward to bring the heavy brass padlock belonging to the 
companion-way. Then opening the slide a little, the 
captain whispered something down the crack, closed it, 


and turned the key upon them ten in number leaving 
on deck some twenty or more, who thus far had remained 

' All night a wide-awake watch was kept by all the 
officers, forward and aft, especially about the forecastle 
scuttle and fore-hatchway : at which last place it was 
feared the insurgents might emerge, after breaking through 
the bulkhead below. But the hours of darkness passed 
in peace ; the men who still remained at their duty toiling 
hard at the pumps, whose clinking and clanking at inter- 
vals through the dreary night dismally resounded through 
the ship. 

' At sunrise the captain went forward, and knocking 
on the deck, summoned the prisoners to work ; but with 
a yell they refused. Water was then lowered down to 
them, and a couple of handfuls of biscuit were tossed after 
it ; when again turning the key upon them and pocketing 
it, the captain returned to the quarter-deck. Twice 
every day for three days this was repeated ; but on the 
fourth morning a confused wrangling, and then a scuffling 
was heard, as the customary summons was delivered ; 
and suddenly four men burst up from the forecastle, 
saying they were ready to turn to. The fetid closeness 
of the ah*, and a famishing diet, united perhaps to some 
fears of ultimate retribution, had constrained them to 
surrender at discretion. Emboldened by this, the captain 
reiterated his demand to the rest, but Steelkilt shouted 
up to him a terrific hint to stop his babbling and betake 
himself where he belonged. On the fifth morning three 
others of the mutineers bolted up into the air from the 
desperate arms below that sought to restrain them. 
Only three were left. 

' " Better turn to, now ? " said the captain, with a 
heartless jeer. 

' " Shut us up again, will ye ! " cried Steelkilt. 


4 " Oh ! certainly," said the captain, and the key clicked. 

' It was at this point, gentlemen, that enraged by the 
defection of seven of his former associates, and stung by the 
mocking voice that had last hailed him, and maddened 
by his long entombment in a place as black as the bowels 
of despair ; it was then that Steelkilt proposed to the two 
Canallers, thus far apparently of one mind with him, to 
burst out of their hole at the next summoning of the 
garrison ; and armed with their keen mincing-knives 
(long, crescentic, heavy implements with a handle at each 
end) run amuck from the bowsprit to the taffrail ; and if 
by any devilishness of desperation possible, seize the ship. 
For himself, he would do this, he said, whether they joined 
him or not. That was the last night he should spend in 
that den. But the scheme met with no opposition on 
the part of the other two ; they swore they were ready for 
that, or for any other mad thing, for anything in short 
but a surrender. And what was more, they each insisted 
upon being the first man on deck, when the time to make 
the rush should come. But to this their leader as fiercely 
objected, reserving that priority for himself ; particularly 
as his two comrades would not yield, the one to the other, 
in the matter ; and both of them could not be first, for 
the ladder would but admit one man at a time. And 
here, gentlemen, the foul play of these miscreants must 
come out. 

' Upon hearing the frantic project of their leader, each 
in his own separate soul had suddenly lighted, it would 
seem, upon the same piece of treachery, namely : to be 
foremost in breaking out, in order to be the first of the 
three, though the last of the ten, to surrender ; and there- 
by secure whatever small chance of pardon such conduct 
might merit. But when Steelkilt made known his deter- 
mination still to lead them to the last, they in some way, by 
some subtle chemistry of villainy, mixed their before secret 

VOL. i, x 


treacheries together ; and when their leader fell into a 
doze, verbally opened their souls to each other in three 
sentences ; and bound the sleeper with cords, and gagged 
him with cords ; and shrieked out for the captain at 

' Thinking murder at hand, and smelling in the dark 
for the blood, he and all his armed mates and harpooneers 
rushed for the forecastle. In a few minutes the scuttle 
was opened, and, bound hand and foot, the still struggling 
ringleader was shoved up into the air by his perfidious 
allies, who at once claimed the honour of securing a man 
who had been fully ripe for murder. But all these were 
collared, and dragged along the deck like dead cattle ; and, 
side by side, were seized up into the mizen rigging, like 
three quarters of meat, and there they hung till morning. 
" Damn ye," cried the captain, pacing to and fro before 
them, " the vultures would not touch ye, ye villains ! " 

' At sunrise he summoned all hands ; and separating 
those who had rebelled from those who had taken no 
part in the mutiny, he told the former that he had a good 
mind to flog them all round thought, upon the whole, 
he would do so he ought to justice demanded it ; but 
for the present, considering their timely surrender, he 
would let them go with a reprimand, which he accordingly 
administered in the vernacular. 

' " But as for you, ye carrion rogues," turning to the 
three men in the rigging " for you, I mean to mince ye 
up for the try -pots " ; and, seizing a rope, he applied it 
with all his might to the backs of the two traitors, till 
they yelled no more, but lifelessly hung their heads side- 
ways, as the two crucified thieves are drawn. 

4 " My wrist is sprained with ye ! " he cried, at last ; 
" but there is still rope enough left for you, my fine 
bantam, that wouldn't give up. Take that gag from his 
mouth, and let us hear what he can say for himself." 


' For a moment the exhausted mutineer made a tremu- 
lous motion of his cramped jaws, and then painfully 
twisting round his head, said in a sort of hiss, " What I 
say is this and mind it well if you flog me, I murder 
you ! " 

' " Say ye so ? then see how ye frighten me " and 
the captain drew off with the rope to strike. 

' " Best not," hissed the Lakeman. 

' " But I must," and the rope was once more drawn 
back for the stroke. 

* Steelkilt here hissed out something, inaudible to all 
but the captain ; who, to the amazement of all hands, 
started back, paced the deck rapidly two or three times, 
and then suddenly throwing down his rope, said, " I won't 
do it let him go cut him down : d' ye hear ? " 

' But as the junior mates were hurrying to execute the 
order, a pale man, with a bandaged head, arrested them 
Radney the chief mate. Ever since the blow, he had 
lain in his berth ; but that morning, hearing the tumult 
on the deck, he had crept out, and thus far had watched 
the whole scene. Such was the state of his mouth, that 
he could hardly speak ; but mumbling something about 
his being willing and able to do what the captain dared not 
attempt, he snatched the rope and advanced to his pinioned 

* " You are a coward ! " hissed the Lakeman. 

' " So I am, but take that." The mate was in the very 
act of striking, when another hiss stayed his uplifted arm. 
He paused : and then pausing no more, made good his 
word, spite of Steelkilt 's threat, whatever that might have 
been. The three men were then cut down, all hands were 
turned to, and, sullenly worked by the moody seamen, the 
iron pumps clanged as before. 

' Just after dark that day, when one watch had retired 
below, a clamour was heard in the forecastle : and the 


two trembling traitors running up, besieged the cabin 
door, saying they durst not consort with the crew. En- 
treaties, cuffs, and kicks could not drive them back, so 
at their own instance they were put down in the ship's run 
for salvation. Still, no sign of mutiny reappeared among 
the rest. On the contrary, it seemed, that mainly at 
Steelkilt's instigation, they had resolved to maintain 
the strictest peacefulness, obey all orders to the last, and, 
when the ship reached port, desert her in a body. But in 
order to ensure the speediest end to the voyage, they all 
agreed to another thing namely, not to sing out for 
whales, in case any should be discovered. For, spite of 
her leak, and spite of all her other perils, the Town-Ho 
still maintained her mast-heads, and her captain was just 
as willing to lower for a fish that moment, as on the day 
his craft first struck the cruising -ground ; and Radney 
the mate was quite as ready to change his berth for a boat, 
and with his bandaged mouth seek to gag in death the 
vital jaw of the whale. 

' But though the Lakeman had induced the seamen to 
adopt this sort of passiveness in their conduct, he kept 
his own counsel (at least till all was over) concerning his 
own proper and private revenge upon the man who had 
stung him in the ventricles of his heart. He was in 
Radney the chief mate's watch ; and as if the infatuated 
man sought to run more than half-way to meet his doom, 
after the scene at the rigging, he insisted, against the 
express counsel of the captain, upon resuming the head 
of his watch at night. Upon this, and one or two other 
circumstances, Steelkilt systematically built the plan of his 

' During the night, Radney had an unseamanlike way 
of sitting on the bulwarks of the quarter-deck, and leaning 
his arm upon the gunwale of the boat which was hoisted 
up there, a little above the ship's side. In this attitude, 


it was well known, he sometimes dozed. There was a 
considerable vacancy between the boat and the ship, and 
down between this was the sea. Steelkilt calculated his 
time, and found that his next trick at the helm would 
come round at two o'clock, in the morning of the third 
day from that in which he had been betrayed. At his 
leisure, he employed the interval in braiding something 
very carefully in his watches below. 

' " What are you making there ? " said a shipmate. 

c " What do you think ? what does it look like ? " 

' " Like a lanyard for your bag ; but it 's an odd one, 
seems to me." 

' " Yes, rather oddish," said the Lakeman, holding it 
at arm's length before him ; " but I think it will answer. 
Shipmate, I haven't enough twine, have you any ? " 

' But there was none in the forecastle. 

' " Then I must get some from old Had " ; and he rose 
to go aft. 

' " You don't mean to go a-begging to him I " said a 

' " Why not ? Do you think he won't do me a turn, 
when it 's to help himself in the end, shipmate ? " and 
going to the mate, he looked at him quietly, and asked 
him for some twine to mend his hammock. It was given 
him neither twine nor lanyard were seen again ; but 
the next night an iron ball, closely netted, partly rolled 
from the pocket of the Lakeman's monkey-jacket, as he 
was tucking the coat into his hammock for a pillow. 
Twenty-four hours after, his trick at the silent helm 
nigh to the man who was apt to doze over the grave always 
ready dug to the seaman's hand that fatal hour was then 
to come ; and in the fore -ordaining soul of Steelkilt, the 
mate was already stark and stretched as a corpse, with his 
forehead crushed in. 

4 But, gentlemen, a fool saved the would-be murderer 


from the bloody deed he had planned. Yet complete 
revenge he had, and without being the avenger. For by 
a mysterious fatality, Heaven itself seemed to step in to 
take out of his hands into its own the damning thing he 
would have done. 

1 It was just between daybreak and sunrise of the 
morning of the second day, when they were washing down 
the decks, that a stupid Teneriffe man, drawing water in 
the main-chains, all at once shouted out, " There she rolls ! 
there she rolls ! " Jesu, what a whale ! It was Mahv^JQick. 

4 " Moby-Dick ! " cried Don Sebastian ; " St. Dominic ! 
sir sailor, but do whales have christenings ? Whom call 
you Moby-Dick ? " 

4 " A very white, and famous, and most deadly immortal 
monster, Don ; but that would be too long a story." 

4 " How ? how ? " cried all the young Spaniards, 

' " Nay, Dons, Dons nay, nay ! I cannot rehearse 
that now. Let me get more into the air, sirs." 

4 " Chicha ! the chicha ! " cried Don Pedro ; " our 
vigorous friend looks faint ; fill up his empty glass ! " 

4 No need, gentlemen ; one moment, and I proceed. 
Now, gentlemen, so suddenly perceiving the snowy whale 
within fifty yards of the ship forgetful of the compact 
among the crew in the excitement of the moment, the 
Teneriffe man had instinctively and involuntarily lifted 
his voice for the monster, though for some little time past 
it had been plainly beheld from the three sullen mast-heads. 
All was now a frenzy. " The White Whale the White 
Whale ! " was the cry from captain, mates, and har- 
pooneers, who, undeterred by fearful rumours, were all 
anxious to capture so famous and precious a fish ; while 
the dogged crew eyed askance, and with curses, the appal- 
ling beauty of the vast milky mass, that lit up by a hori- 
zontal spangling sun, shifted and glistened like a living 


opal in the blue morning sea. Gentlemen, a strange 
fatality pervades the whole career of these events, as if 
verily mapped out before the world itself was charted. 
The mutineer was the bowsman of the mate, and when 
fast to a fish, it was his duty to sit next him, while Radney 
stood up with his lance in the prow, and haul in or slacken 
the line, at the word of command. Moreover, when the 
four boats were lowered, the mate's got the start ; and 
none howled more fiercely with delight than did Steelkilt, 
as he strained at his oar. After a stiff pull, their har- 
pooneer got fast, and, spear in hand, Radney sprang to 
the bow. He was always a furious man, it seems, in a 
boat. And now his bandaged cry was, to beach him 
on the whale's topmost back. Nothing loath, his bows- 
man hauled him up and up, through a blinding foam that 
blent two whitenesses together ; till of a sudden the boat 
struck as against a sunken ledge, and keeling over, spilled 
out the standing mate. That instant, as he fell on the 
whale's slippery back, the boat righted, and was dashed 
aside by the swell, while Radney was tossed over into the 
sea, on the other flank of the whale . He struck out through 
the spray, and, for an instant, was dimly seen through 
that veil, wildly seeking to remove himself from the eye 
of Moby-Dick. But the whale rushed round in a sudden 
maelstrom ; seized the swimmer between his jaws ; and 
rearing high up with him, plunged headlong again, and 
went down. 

' Meantime, at the first tap of the boat's bottom, the 
Lakeman had slackened the line, so as to drop astern from 
the whirlpool ; calmly looking on, he thought his own 
thoughts. But a sudden, terrific, downward jerking 
of the boat, quickly brought his knife to the line. He 
cut it ; and the whale was free. But, at some distance, 
Moby-Dick rose again, with some tatters of Radney 's 
red woollen shirt caught in the teeth that had destroyed 


him. All four boats gave chase again ; but the whale 
eluded them, and finally wholly disappeared. 

' In good time, the Town-Ho reached her port a savage, 
solitary place where no civilised creature resided. 
There, headed by the Lake man, all but five or six of the 
foremast-men deliberately deserted among the palms ; 
eventually, as it turned out, seizing a large double war- 
canoe of the savages, and setting sail for some other 

4 The ship's company being reduced to but a handful, 
the captain called upon the Islanders to assist him in the 
laborious business of heaving down the ship to stop the 
leak. But to such unresting vigilance over their danger- 
ous allies was this small band of whites necessitated, both 
by night and by day, and so extreme was the hard work 
they underwent, that upon the vessel being ready again 
for sea, they were in such a weakened condition that the 
captain durst not put off with them in so heavy a vessel. 
After taking counsel with his officers, he anchored the 
ship as far off shore as possible ; loaded and ran out his 
two cannon from the bows ; stacked his muskets on the 
poop ; and warning the Islanders not to approach the 
ship at their peril, took one man with him, and setting 
the sail of his best whale-boat, steered straight before the 
wind for Tahiti, five hundred miles distant, to procure 
a reinforcement to his crew. 

' On the fourth day of the sail, a large canoe was 
descried, which seemed to have touched at a low isle of 
corals. He steered away from it ; but the savage craft 
bore down on him ; and soon the voice of Steelkilt hailed 
him to heave to, or he would run him under water. The 
captain presented a pistol. With one foot on each prow 
of the yoked war-canoes, the Lakeman laughed him to 
scorn ; assuring him that if the pistol so much as clicked 
in the lock, he would bury him in bubbles and foam. 


' " What do you want of me ? " cried the captain. 

' " Where are you bound ? and for what are you 
bound ? " demanded Steelkilt ; "no lies." 

' " I am bound to Tahiti for more men." 

' " Very good. Let me board you a moment I come 
in peace." With that he leaped from the canoe, swam to 
the boat ; and climbing the gunwale, stood face to face 
with the captain. 

" Cross your arms, sir ; throw back your head. Now, 
repeat after me. As soon as Steelkilt leaves me, I swear 
to beach this boat on yonder island, and remain there six 
days. If I do not, may lightnings strike me ! " 

' " A pretty scholar," laughed the Lakeman. " Adios, 
Senor ! " and leaping into the sea, he swam back to his 

' Watching the boat till it was fairly beached, and 
drawn up to the roots of the cocoa-nut trees, Steelkilt 
made sail again, and in due time arrived at Tahiti, his 
own place of destination. There, luck befriended him ; 
two ships were about to sail for France, and were provi- 
dentially in want of precisely that number of men which 
the sailor headed. They embarked ; and so forever got 
the start of their former captain, had he been at all minded 
to work them legal retribution. 

' Some ten days after the French ships sailed, the whale- 
boat arrived, and the captain was forced to enlist some of 
the more civilised Tahitians, who had been somewhat 
used to the sea. Chartering a small native schooner, he 
returned with them to his vessel ; and finding all right 
there, again resumed his cruisings. 

' Where Steelkilt now is, gentlemen, none know ; but 
upon the island of Nantucket, the widow of Radney still 
turns to the sea which refuses to give up its dead ; still 
in dreams sees the awful White Whale that destroyed 
him. * * * 


' " Are you through ? " said Don Sebastian quietly. 

1 " I am, Don." 

6 " Then I entreat you, tell me if to the best of your 
own convictions, this your story is in substance really 
true ? It is so passing wonderful ! Did you get it from an 
unquestionable source ? Bear with me if I seem to press." 

' " Also bear with all of us, sir sailor ; for we all join 
in Don Sebastian's suit," cried the company, with exceed- 
ing interest. 

' " Is there a copy of the Holy Evangelists hi the Golden 
Inn, gentlemen ? " 

' " Nay," said Don Sebastian ; " but I know a worthy 
priest near by, who will quickly procure one for me. I 
go for it ; but are you well advised ? this may grow too 

' " Will you be so good as to bring the priest also, Don ? " 

' " Though there are no Auto-da-Fes in Lima now," 
said one of the company to another ; "I fear our sailor 
friend runs risk of the archiepiscopacy. Let us withdraw 
more out of the moonlight. I see no need of this." 

' " Excuse me for running after you, Don Sebastian ; 
but may I also beg that you will be particular in procuring 

the largest -sized Evangelists you can." 


' " This is the priest, he brings you the Evangelists," 
said Don Sebastian gravely, returning with a tall and 
solemn figure. 

' " Let me remove my hat. Now, venerable priest, 
further into the light, and hold the Holy Book before me 
that I may touch it. 

' " So help me Heaven, and on my honour the story I 
have told ye, gentlemen, is in substance and its great 
items, true. I know it to be true ; it happened on this 
ball ; I trod the ship ; I knew the crew ; I have seen and 
talked with Steelkilt since the death of Radney." 



I SHALL ere long paint to you as well as one can without 
canvas, something like the true form of the whale as he 
actually appears to the eye of the whaleman when in his 
own absolute body the whale is moored alongside the 
whale -ship so that he can be fairly stepped upon there. 
It may be worth while, therefore, previously to advert 
to those curious imaginary portraits of him which even 
down to the present day confidently challenge the faith 
of the landsman. It is time to set the world right in 
this matter, by proving such pictures of the whale all 

It may be that the primal source of all those pictorial 
delusions will be found among the oldest Hindu, Egyptian, 
and Grecian sculptures. For ever since those inventive 
but unscrupulous times when on the marble panellings 
of temples, the pedestals of statues, and on shields, 
medallions, cups, and coins, the dolphin was drawn in 
scales of chain-armour like Saladin's, and a helmeted 
head like St. George's ; ever since then has something 
of the same sort of licence prevailed, not only in most 
popular pictures of the whale, but in many scientific 
presentations of him. 

Now, by all odds, the most ancient extant portrait 
anyways purporting to be the whale's, is to be found in 
the famous cavern -pagoda of Elephanta, in India. The 
Brahmins maintain that in the almost endless sculptures 
of that immemorial pagoda, all the trades and pursuits, 



every conceivable avocation of man, were prefigured ages 
before any of them actually came into being. No wonder, 
then, that in some sort our noble profession of whaling 
should have been there shadowed forth. The Hindu 
whale referred to, occurs in a separate department of the 
wall, depicting the incarnation of Vishnu in the form of 
leviathan, learnedly known as the Matse Avatar. But 
though this sculpture is half man and half whale, so as 
only to give the tail of the latter, yet that small section 
of him is all wrong. It looks more like the tapering tail 
of an anaconda a than the broad palms of the true whale's 
majestic flukes. 

But go to the old galleries, and look now at a great 
Christian painter's portrait of this fish ; for he succeeds 
no better than the antediluvian Hindu. It is Guide's 
picture of Perseus rescuing Andromeda from the sea- 
monster or whale. Where did Guido get the model of 
such a strange creature as that ? Nor does Hogarth, in 
painting the same scene in his own ' Perseus Descending,' 
make out one whit better. The huge corpulence of that 
Hogarthian monster undulates on the surface, scarcely 
drawing one inch of water. It has a sort of howdah on its 
back, and its distended tusked mouth into which the 
billows are rolling, might be taken for the Traitors' Gate 
leading from the Thames by water into the Tower. Then, 
there are the Prodromus whales of old Scotch Sibbald, 
and Jonah's whale, as depicted in the prints of old Bibles 
and the cuts of old primers. What shall be said of these ? 
As for the bookbinder's whale winding like a vine-stalk 
round the stock of a descending anchor as stamped and 
gilded on the backs and title-pages of many books both 
old and new that is a very picturesque but purely 
fabulous creature, imitated, I take it, from the like figures 
on antique vases. Though universally denominated a 
dolphin, I nevertheless call this bookbinder's fish an 


attempt at a whale ; because it was so intended when the 
device was first introduced. It was introduced by an old 
Italian publisher somewhere about the 15th century, 
during the Revival of Learning ; and in those days, and 
even down to a comparatively late period, dolphins were 
popularly supposed to be a species of the leviathan. 

In the vignettes and other embellishments of some 
ancient books you will at times meet with very curious 
touches at the whale, where all manner of spouts, jets 
d'eau, hot springs and cold, Saratoga and Baden-Baden, 
come bubbling up from his unexhausted brain. In the 
title-page of the original edition of the Advancement of 
Learning you will find some curious whales. 

But quitting all these unprofessional attempts, let us 
glance at those pictures of leviathan purporting to be 
sober, scientific delineations, by those who know. In 
old Harris's collection of voyages there are some plates 
of whales extracted from a Dutch book of voyages, A.D. 
1671, entitled A Whaling Voyage to Spitzbergen in the ship 
Jonas in the Whale, Peter Peterson of Friesland, master. 
In one of those plates the whales, like great rafts of 
logs, are represented lying among ice-isles, with white 
bears running over their living backs. In another 
plate, the prodigious blunder is made of representing 
the whale with perpendicular flukes. 

Then again, there is an imposing quarto, written by one 
Captain Colnett, a post-captain in the English navy, 
entitled A Voyage round Cape Horn into the South Seas, 
for the purpose of extending the Spermaceti Whale Fisheries. 
In this book is an outline purporting to be a ' Picture of a 
Physeter or Spermaceti whale, drawn by scale from one 
killed on the coast of Mexico, August 1793, and hoisted 
on deck.' I doubt not the captain had this veracious 
picture taken for the benefit of his marines. To mention 
but one thing about it, let me say that it has an eye which 


applied, according to the accompanying scale, to a full- 
grown sperm whale, would make the eye of that whale a 
bow- window some five feet long. Ah, my gallant cap- 
tain, why did ye not give us Jonah looking out of that eye ! 

Nor are the most conscientious compilations of Natural 
History for the benefit of the young and tender, free from 
the same heinousness of mistake. Look at that popular 
work Goldsmith's Animated Nature. In the abridged 
London edition of 1807, there are plates of an alleged 
'whale' and a 'narwhale.' I do not wish to seem 
inelegant, but this unsightly whale looks much like an 
amputated sow ; and, as for the nar whale, one glimpse at 
it is enough to amaze one, that in this nineteenth century 
such a hippogrrff could be palmed for genuine upon any 
intelligent public of schoolboys. 

Then, again, in 1825, Bernard Germain, Count de Lace- 
pede, a great naturalist, published a scientific systematised 
whale book, wherein are several pictures of the different 
species of the leviathan. All these are not only incorrect, 
but the picture of the Mysticetus or Greenland whale 
(that is to say, the right whale), even Scoresby, a long- 
experienced man as touching that species, declares not 
to have its counterpart in nature. 

But the placing of the cap -sheaf to all this blundering 
business was reserved for the scientific Frederick Cuvier, 
brother to the famous Baron. In 1836, he published a 
Natural History of Whales, in which he gives what he 
calls a picture of the sperm whale. Before showing that 
picture to any Nantucketer, you had best provide for 
your summary retreat from Nantucket. In a word, 
Frederick Cuvier's sperm whale is not a sperm whale, 
but a squash. Of course, he never had the benefit of a 
whaling voyage (such men seldom have), but whence he 
derived that picture, who can tell ? Perhaps he got it 
as his scientific predecessor in the same field, Desmarest, 


got one of his authentic abortions ; that is, from a Chinese 
drawing. And what sort of lively lads with the pencil 
those Chinese are, many queer cups and saucers inform us. 

As for the sign-painters' whales seen in the streets 
hanging over the shops of oil-dealers, what shall be said 
of them ? They are generally Richard in. whales, with 
dromedary humps, and very savage ; breakfasting on 
three or four sailor tarts, that is whale-boats full of 
mariners : their deformities floundering in seas of blood 
and blue paint. 

But these manifold mistakes in depicting the whale are 
not so very surprising after all. Consider ! Most of the 
scientific drawings have been taken from the stranded 
fish ; and these are about as correct as a drawing of a 
wrecked ship, with broken back, would correctly repre- 
sent the noble animal itself in all its undashed pride of 
hull and spars. Though elephants have stood for their 
full-lengths, the living leviathan has never yet fairly 
floated himself for his portrait. The living whale, in his 
full majesty and significance, is only to be seen at sea in 
unfathomable waters ; and afloat the vast bulk of him 
is out of sight, like a launched line-of-battle ship ; and 
out of that element it is a thing eternally impossible for 
mortal man to hoist him bodily into the air, so as to 
preserve all his mighty swells and undulations. And, 
not to speak of the highly presumable difference of con- 
tour between a young sucking whale and a full-grown 
Platonian leviathan ; yet, even in the case of one of those 
young sucking whales hoisted to a ship's deck, such is 
then the outlandish, eel-like, limbered, varying shape of 
him, that his precise expression the devil himself could 
not catch. 

But it may be fancied, that from the naked skeleton 
of the stranded whale, accurate hints may be derived 
touching his true form. Not at all. For it is one of the 


more curious things about this leviathan, that his skele- 
ton gives very little idea of his general shape. Though 
Jeremy Bentham's skeleton, which hangs for candelabra 
in the library of one of his executors, correctly conveys 
the idea of a burly -browed utilitarian old gentleman, with 
all Jeremy's other leading personal characteristics ; yet 
nothing of this kind could be inferred from any leviathan's 
articulated bones. In fact, as the great Hunter says, the 
mere skeleton of the whale bears the same relation to the 
fully invested and padded animal as the insect does to 
the chrysalis that so roundingly envelops it. This peculi- 
arity is strikingly evinced in the head, as in some part of 
this book will be incidentally shown. It is also very 
curiously displayed in the side fin, the bones of which 
almost exactly answer to the bones of the human hand, 
minus only the thumb. This fin has four regular bone- 
fingers, the index, middle, ring, and little finger. But all 
these are permanently lodged in their fleshy covering, 
as the human fingers in an artificial covering. ' However 
recklessly the whale may sometimes serve us/ said 
humorous Stubb one day, ' he can never be truly said to 
handle us without mittens.' 

For all these reasons, then, any way you may look at it, 
you must needs conclude that the great leviathan is that 
one creature in the world which must remain unpainted 
to the last. True, one portrait may hit the mark much 
nearer than another, but none can hit it with any very 
considerable degree of exactness. So there is no earthly 
way of finding out precisely what the whale really looks 
like. And the only mode in which you can derive even 
a tolerable idea of his living contour, is by going a-whaling 
yourself ; but by so doing, you run no small risk of being 
eternally stove and sunk by him. Wherefore, it seems to 
me you had best not be too fastidious in your curiosity 
touching this leviathan. 



IN connection with the monstrous pictures of whales, I 
am strongly tempted here to enter upon those still more 
monstrous stories of them which are to be found in certain 
books, both ancient and modern, especially hi Pliny, 
Purchas, Hakluyt, Harris, Cuvier, etc. But I pass that 
matter by. 

I know of only four published outlines of the great 
sperm whale : Colnett's, Huggins's, Frederick Cuvier 's, 
and Beale's. In the previous chapter Colnett and Cuvier 
have been referred to. Huggins's is far better than theirs ; 
but, by great odds, Beale's is the best. All Beale's draw- 
ings of this whale are good, excepting the middle figure 
in the picture of three whales in various attitudes, capping 
his second chapter. His frontispiece, boats attacking 
sperm whales, though no doubt calculated to excite the 
civil scepticism of some parlour men, is admirably correct 
and lifelike in its general effect. Some of the sperm 
whale drawings in J. Ross Browne are pretty correct in 
contour ; but they are wretchedly engraved. That is 
not his fault, though. 

Of the right whale, the best outline pictures are in 
Scoresby ; but they are drawn on too small a scale to 
convey a desirable impression. He has but one picture 
of whaling scenes, and this is a sad deficiency, because it 
is by such pictures only, when at all well done, that you 

VOL. I. Y 


can derive anything like a truthful idea of the living whale 
as seen by his living hunters. 

But, taken for all in all, by far the finest, though in some 
details not the most correct, presentations of whales and 
whaling scenes to be anywhere found, are two large 
French engravings, well executed, and taken from paint- 
ings by one Garnery. Respectively, they represent 
attacks on the sperm and right whale. In the first en- 
graving a noble sperm whale is depicted in full majesty 
of might, just risen beneath the boat from the profundities 
of the ocean, and bearing high in the air upon his back the 
terrific wreck of the stoven planks. The prow of the boat 
is partially unbroken, and is drawn just balancing upon 
the monster's spine ; and standing in that prow, for that 
one single incomputable flash of time, you behold an oars- 
man, half shrouded by the incensed boiling spout of the 
whale, and in the act of leaping, as if from a precipice. 
The action of the whole thing is wonderfully good and true. 
The half -emptied line-tub floats on the whitened sea ; the 
wooden poles of the spilled harpoons obliquely bob in it ; 
the heads of the swimming crew are scattered about the 
whale in contrasting expressions of affright ; while hi the 
black stormy distance the ship is bearing down upon the 
scene. Serious fault might be found with the anatomical 
details of this whale, but let that pass ; since, for the life 
of me, I could not draw so good a one. 

In the second engraving, the boat is in the act of draw- 
ing alongside the barnacled flank of a large running right 
whale, that rolls his black weedy bulk in the sea like some 
mossy rock-slide from the Patagonian cliffs. His jets 
are erect, full, and black like soot ; so that from so 
abounding a smoke in the chimney, you would think there 
must be a brave supper cooking in the great bowels below. 
Sea-fowls are pecking at the small crabs, shell-fish, and 
other sea-candies and macaroni, which the right whale 


sometimes carries on his pestilent back. And all the 
while the thick-lipped leviathan is rushing through the 
deep, leaving tons of tumultuous white curds in his wake, 
and causing the slight boat to rock in the swells like a 
skiff caught nigh the paddle-wheels of an ocean steamer. 
Thus, the foreground is all raging commotion ; but 
behind, in admirable artistic contrast, is the glassy 
level of a sea becalmed, the drooping unstarched sails 
of the powerless ship, and the inert mass of a dead 
whale, a conquered fortress, with the flag of capture 
lazily hanging from the whale-pole inserted into his 
spout -hole. 

Who Garnery the painter is, or was, I know not. But 
my life for it he was either practically conversant with his 
subject, or else marvellously tutored by some experienced 
whaleman. The French are the lads for painting action. 
Go and gaze upon all the paintings of Europe, and where 
will you find such a gallery of living and breathing com- 
motion on canvas, as in that triumphal hall at Versailles ; 
where the beholder fights his way, pell-mell, through the 
consecutive great battles of France ; where every sword 
seems a flash of the Northern Lights, and the successive 
armed kings and emperors dash by, like a charge of 
crowned centaurs ? Not wholly unworthy of a place in 
that gallery, are those sea-battle pieces of Garnery. 

The natural aptitude of the French for seizing the 
picturesqueness of things seems to be peculiarly evinced 
in what paintings and engravings they have of their 
whaling scenes. With not one tenth of England's experi- 
ence in the fishery, and not the thousandth part of that 
of the Americans, they have nevertheless furnished both 
nations with the only finished sketches at all capable 
of conveying the real spirit of the whale-hunt. For the 
most part, the English and American whale draughtsmen 
seem entirely content with presenting the mechanical 


outline of things, such as the vacant profile of the whale ; 
which, so far as picturesqueness of effect is concerned, is 
about tantamount to sketching the profile of a pyramid. 
Even Scoresby, the justly renowned right whaleman, 
after giving us a stiff full-length of the Greenland whale, 
and three or four delicate miniatures of narwhales and 
porpoises, treats us to a series of classical engravings of 
boat-hooks, chopping-knives, and grapnels ; and with the 
microscopic diligence of a Leuwenhoeck submits to the 
inspection of a shivering world ninety-six facsimiles of 
magnified Arctic snow crystals. I mean no disparagement 
to the excellent voyager (I honour him for a veteran), but 
in so important a matter it was certainly an oversight not 
to have procured for every crystal a sworn affidavit taken 
before a Greenland Justice of the Peace. 

In addition to those fine engravings from Garnery, there 
are two other French engravings worthy of note, by some- 
one who subscribes himself ' H. Durand.' One of them, 
though not precisely adapted to our present purpose, 
nevertheless deserves mention on other accounts. It is a 
quiet noon-scene among the isles of the Pacific ; a French 
whaler anchored, inshore, in a calm, and lazily taking 
water on board ; the loosened sails of the ship, and the 
long leaves of the palms in the background, both drooping 
together in the breezeless air. The effect is very fine, 
when considered with reference to its presenting the hardy 
fishermen under one of their few aspects of oriental 
repose. The other engraving is quite a different affair : 
the ship hove-to upon the open sea, and in the very heart 
of the leviathanic life, with a right whale alongside ; the 
vessel (in the act of cutting -in) hove over to the monster 
as if to a quay ; and a boat, hurriedly pushing off from 
this scene of activity, is about giving chase to whales in 
the distance. The harpoons and lances lie levelled for 
use ; three oarsmen are just setting the mast in its hole ; 


while from a sudden roll of the sea, the little craft stands 
half -erect out of the water, like a rearing horse. From 
the ship, the smoke of the torments of the boiling whale 
is going up like the smoke over a village of smithies ; and 
to windward, a black cloud, rising up with earnest of 
squalls and rains, seems to quicken the activity of the 
excited seamen. 



ON Tower Hill, as you go down to the London docks, you 
may have seen a crippled beggar (or kedger, as the sailors 
say) holding a painted board before him, representing 
the tragic scene in which he lost his leg. There are three 
whales and three boats ; and one of the boats (presumed 
to contain the missing leg in all its original integrity) is 
being crunched by the jaws of the foremost whale. Any 
time these ten years, they tell me, has that man held up 
that picture, and exhibited that stump to an incredulous 
world. But the time of his justification has now come. 
His three whales are as good whales as were ever published 
in Wapping, at any rate ; and his stump as unquestion- 
able a stump as any you will find in the Western clearings. 
But, though forever mounted on that stump, never a 
stump-speech does the poor whaleman make ; but, with 
downcast eyes, stands ruefully contemplating his own 

Throughout the Pacific, and also in Nantucket, and 
New Bedford, and Sag Harbour, you will come across 
lively sketches of whales and whaling scenes, graven by 
the fishermen themselves on sperm whale-teeth, or ladies' 
busks wrought out of the right whalebone, and other like 
skrimshander articles, as the whalemen call the numerous 
little ingenious contrivances they elaborately carve out 
of the rough material, in their hours of ocean leisure. 
Some of them have little boxes of dentistical-looking 



implements, specially intended for the skrimshandering 
business. But, in general, they toil with their jack- 
knives alone ; and, with that almost omnipotent tool of 
the sailor, they will turn you out anything you please, 
in the way of a mariner's fancy. 

Long exile from Christendom and civilisation inevitably 
restores a man to that condition in which God placed him, 
i.e. what is called savagery. Your true whale-hunter is as 
much a savage as an Iroquois. I myself am a savage, 
owning no allegiance but to the King of the Cannibals ; 
and ready at any moment to rebel against him. 

Now, one of the peculiar characteristics of the savage 
in his domestic hours, is his wonderful patience of industry. 
An ancient Hawaiian war-club or spear-paddle, in its full 
multiplicity and elaboration of carving, is as great a 
trophy of human perseverance as a Latin lexicon. For, 
with but a bit of broken sea-shell or a shark's tooth, that 
miraculous intricacy of wooden net work has been achieved ; 
and it has cost steady years of steady application. 

As with the Hawaiian savage, so with the white sailor- 
savage. With the same marvellous patience, and with 
the same single shark's tooth, of his one poor jack-knife, 
he will carve you a bit of bone sculpture, not quite as 
workmanlike, but as close packed in its maziness of 
design, as the Greek savage, Achilles's shield ; and full 
of barbaric spirit and suggestiveness, as the prints of that 
fine old Dutch savage, Albert Durer. 

Wooden whales, or whales cut in profile out of the 
small dark slabs of the noble South Sea war-wood, are 
frequently met with in the forecastles of American whalers. 
Some of them are done with much accuracy. 

At some old gable-roofed country houses you will see 
brass whales hung by the tail for knockers to the roadside 
door. When the porter is sleepy, the anvil-headed whale 
would be best. But these knocking whales are seldom 


remarkable as faithful essays. On the spires of some old- 
fashioned churches you will see sheet-iron whales placed 
there for weather-cocks ; but they are so elevated, and 
besides that are to all intents and purposes so labelled 
with ' Hands off ! ' you cannot examine them closely 
enough to decide upon their merit. 

In bony, ribby regions of the earth, where at the base 
of high broken cliffs masses of rock lie strewn in fantastic 
groupings upon the plain, you will often discover images 
as of the petrified forms of the leviathan partly merged 
in grass, which of a windy day breaks against them in a 
surf of green surges. 

Then, again, in mountainous countries where the 
traveller is continually girdled by amphitheatrical 
heights ; here and there from some lucky point of view 
you will catch passing glimpses of the profiles of whales 
defined along the undulating ridges. But you must be a 
thorough whaleman, to see these sights ; and not only 
that, but if you wish to return to such a sight again, you 
must be sure and take the exact intersecting latitude and 
longitude of your first standpoint, else so chance-like are 
such observations of the hills, that your precise, previous 
standpoint would require a laborious rediscovery ; like 
the Soloma islands, which still remain incognita, though 
once high-ruffed Mendanna trod them and old Figuera 
chronicled them. 

Nor when expandingly lifted by your subject, can you 
fail to trace out great whales in the starry heavens, and 
boats in pursuit of them ; as when long filled with 
thoughts of war the Eastern nations saw armies locked 
in battle among the clouds. Thus at the North have I 
chased leviathan round and round the Pole with the 
revolutions of the bright points that first defined him to 
me. And beneath the effulgent Antarctic skies I have 
boarded the Argo-Navis, and joined the chase against 


the starry Cetus far beyond the utmost stretch of Hydras 
and the Flying Fish. 

With a frigate's anchors for my bridle -bits and fasces 
of harpoons for spurs, would I could mount that whale 
and leap the topmost skies, to see whether the fabled 
heavens with all their countless tents really lie encamped 
beyond my mortal sight ! 



STEERING north-eastward from the Crozetts, we fell in with 
vast meadows of brit, the minute, yellow substance upon 
which the right whale largely feeds. For leagues and 
leagues it undulated round us, so that we seemed to be 
sailing through boundless fields of ripe and golden wheat. 

On the second day, numbers of right whales were seen, 
who, secure from the attack of a sperm whaler like the 
Pequod, with open jaws sluggishly swam through the brit, 
which, adhering to the fringing fibres of that wondrous 
Venetian blind in their mouths, was in that manner 
separated from the water that escaped at the lip. 

As morning mowers, who side by side slowly arid 
seethingly advance their scythes through the long wet 
grass of marshy meads ; even so these monsters swam, 
making a strange, grassy, cutting sound ; and leaving 
behind them endless swaths of blue upon the yellow 
sea. 1 

But it was only the sound they made as they parted 
the brit which at all reminded one of mowers. Seen from 
the mast-heads, especially when they paused and were 
stationary for a while, their vast black forms looked more 
like lifeless masses of rock than anything else. And as 
in the great hunting countries of India, the stranger at a 

1 That part of the sea known among whalemen as the ' Brazil Banks ' 
does not bear that name as the Banks of Newfoundland do, because of 
there being shallows and soundings there, but because of this remarkable 
meadow-like appearance, caused by the vast drifts of brit continually 
floating in those latitudes, where the right whale is often chased. 

BRIT 347 

distance will sometimes pass on the plains recumbent 
elephants without knowing them to be such, taking them 
for bare, blackened elevations of the soil ; even so, often, 
with him who for the first time beholds this species of 
the leviathans of the sea. And even when recognised at 
last, their immense magnitude renders it very hard really 
to believe that such bulky masses of overgrowth can 
possibly be instinct, in all parts, with the same sort of life 
that lives in a dog or a horse. 

Indeed, in other respects, you can hardly regard any 
creatures of the deep with the same feelings that you do 
those of the shore. For though some old naturalists have 
maintained that all creatures of the land are of their kind 
in the sea ; and though taking a broad general view of 
the thing, this may very well be ; yet coming to specialities, 
where, for example, does the ocean furnish any fish that 
in disposition answers to the sagacious kindness of the 
dog ? The accursed shark alone can in any generic 
respect be said to bear comparative analogy to him. 

But though, to landsmen in general, the native in- 
habitants of the seas have ever been regarded with 
emotions unspeakably unsocial and repelling ; though we 
know the sea to be an everlasting terra incognita, so that 
Columbus sailed over numberless unknown worlds to 
discover his one superficial western one ; though, by vast 
odds, the most terrific of all mortal disasters have im- 
memorially and indiscriminately befallen tens and 
hundreds of thousands of those who have gone upon the 
waters ; though but a moment's consideration will teach, 
that however baby man may brag of his science and skill, 
and however much, in a flattering future, that science and 
skill may augment ; yet forever and forever, to the crack 
of doom, the sea will insult and murder him, and pulverise 
the stateliest, stiffest frigate he can make ; nevertheless, 
by the continual repetition of these very impressions, 


man has lost that sense of the full awfulness of the sea 
which aboriginally belongs to it. 

The jirst boat we read of, floated on an ocean, that with 
Portuguese vengeance had whelmed a whole world with- 
out leaving so much as a widow. That same ocean rolls 
now ; that same ocean destroyed the wrecked ships of 
last year. Yea, foolish mortals, Noah's flood is not yet 
subsided ; two -thirds of the fair world it yet covers. 

Wherein differ the sea and the land, that a miracle 
upon one is not a miracle upon the other ? Preternatural 
terrors rested upon the Hebrews, when under the feet of 
Korah and his company the live ground opened and 
swallowed them up forever ; yet not a modern sun ever 
sets, but in precisely the same manner the live sea swallows 
up ships and crews. 

But not only is the sea such a foe to man who is an alien 
to it, but it is also a fiend to its own offspring ; worse than 
the Persian host who murdered his own guests ; sparing 
not the creatures which itself hath spawned. Like a 
savage tigress that tossing in the jungle overlays her 
own cubs, so the sea dashes even the mightiest whales 
against the rocks, and leaves them there side by side with 
the split wrecks of ships. No mercy, no power but its 
own controls it. Panting and snorting like a mad battle- 
steed that has lost its rider, the masterless ocean overruns 
the globe. 

Consider the subtleness of the sea ; how its most 
dreaded creatures glide under water, unapparent for the 
most part, and treacherously hidden beneath the loveliest 
tints of azure. Consider also the devilish brilliance and 
beauty of many of its most remorseless tribes, as the 
dainty embellished shape of many species of sharks. 
Consider, once more, the universal cannibalism of the 
sea ; all whose creatures prey upon each other, carrying 
on eternal war since the world began. 

BRIT 349 

Consider all this ; and then turn to this green, gentle, 
and most docile earth ; consider them both, the sea 
and the land ; and do you not find a strange analogy to 
something in yourself ? For as this appalling ocean 
surrounds the verdant land, so in the soul of man there 
lies one insular Tahiti, full of peace and joy, but encom- 
passed by all the horrors of the half -known life. God 
keep thee ! Push not off from that isle, thou canst never 
return ! 



SLOWLY wading through the meadows of brit, the Pequod 
still held on her way north-eastward toward the island 
of Java ; a gentle air impelling her keel, so that in the 
surrounding serenity her three tall tapering masts mildly 
waved to that languid breeze, as three mild palms on a 
plain. And still, at wide intervals in the silvery night, 
the lonely, alluring jet would be seen. 

But one transparent blue morning, when a stillness 
almost preternatural spread over the sea, however un- 
attended with any stagnant calm ; when the long bur- 
nished sun-glade on the waters seemed a golden finger 
laid across them, enjoining some secrecy ; when the 
slippered waves whispered together as they softly ran on ; 
in this profound hush of the visible sphere a strange spectre 
was seen by Daggoo from the mainmast-head. 

In the distance, a great white mass lazily rose, and rising 
higher and higher, and disentangling itself from the azure, 
at last gleamed before our prow like a snow-slide, new slid 
from the hills. Thus glistening for a moment, as slowly 
it subsided, and sank. Then once more arose, and silently 
gleamed. It seemed not a whale ; and yet is this Moby- 
Dick ? thought Daggoo. Again the phantom went down, 
but on reappearing once more, with a stiletto-like cry that 
startled every man from his nod, the negro yelled out 
4 There ! there again ! there she breaches ! right ahead ! 
The White Whale, the White Whale ! ' 

Upon this, the seamen rushed to the yard-arms, as in 
swarming-time the bees rush to the boughs. Bareheaded 
in the sultry sun, Ahab stood on the bowsprit, and with one 


SQUID 351 

hand pushed far behind in readiness to wave his orders to 
the helmsman, cast his eager glance in the direction indi- 
cated aloft by the outstretched motionless arm of Daggoo. 

Whether the flitting attendance of the one still and 
solitary jet had gradually worked upon Ahab, so that he 
was now prepared to connect the ideas of mildness and 
repose with the first sight of the particular whale he 
pursued ; however this was, or whether his eagerness 
betrayed him ; whichever way it might have been, no 
sooner did he distinctly perceive the white mass, than with 
a quick intensity he instantly gave orders for lowering. 

The four boats were soon on the water ; Ahab's in 
advance, and all swiftly pulling toward their prey. Soon 
it went down, and while, with oars suspended, we were 
awaiting its reappearance, lo ! in the same spot where it 
sank, once more it slowly rose. Almost forgetting for 
the moment all thoughts of Moby-Dick, we now gazed 
at the most wondrous phenomenon which the secret seas 
have hitherto revealed to mankind. A vast pulpy mass, 
furlongs in length and breadth, of a glancing cream-colour, 
lay floating on the water, innumerable long arms radiating 
from its centre, and curling and twisting like a nest of 
anacondas, as if blindly to clutch at any hapless object 
within reach. No perceptible face or front did it have ; 
no conceivable token of either sensation or instinct ; but 
undulated there on the billows, an unearthly, formless, 
chance-like apparition of life. 

As with a low sucking sound it slowly disappeared again, 
Starbuck still gazing at the agitated waters where it had 
sunk, with a wild voice exclaimed ' Almost rather had 
I seen Moby-Dick and fought him, than to have seen thee, 
thou white ghost ! ' 

' What was it, sir ? ' said Flask. 

' The great live squid, which, they say, few whale-ships 
ever beheld, and returned to their ports to tell of it.' 


But Ahab said nothing ; turning his boat, he sailed 
back to the vessel ; the rest as silently following. 

Whatever superstitions the sperm whalemen in general 
have connected with the sight of this object, certain it is, 
that a glimpse of it being so very unusual, that circum- 
stance has gone far to invest it with portent ousness. So 
rarely is it beheld, that though one and all of them declare 
it to be the largest animated thing in the ocean, yet very 
few of them have any but the most vague ideas concern- 
ing its true nature and form ; notwithstanding, they 
believe it to furnish to the sperm whale his only food. 
For though other species of whales find their food above 
water, and may be seen by man in the act of feeding, the 
spermaceti whale obtains his whole food in unknown 
zones below the surface ; and .only by inference is it 
that any one can tell of what, precisely, that food consists. 
At times, when closely pursued, he will disgorge what are 
supposed to be the detached arms of the squid ; some of 
them thus exhibited exceeding twenty and thirty feet in 
length. They fancy that the monster to which these arms 
belonged ordinarily clings by them to the bed of the ocean ; 
and that the sperm whale, unlike other species, is supplied 
with teeth in order to attack and tear it. 

There seems some ground to imagine that the great 
Kraken of Bishop Pontoppodan may ultimately resolve 
itself into Squid. The manner in which the Bishop de- 
scribes it, as alternately rising and sinking, with some 
other particulars he narrates, in all this the two corre- 
spond. But much abatement is necessary with respect 
to the incredible bulk he assigns it. 

By some naturalists who have vaguely heard rumours 
of the mysterious creature, here spoken of, it is included 
among the class of cuttle-fish, to which, indeed, in certain 
external respects it would seem to belong, but only as the 
Anak of the tribe. 



WITH reference to the whaling scene shortly to be de- 
scribed, as well as for the better understanding of all 
similar scenes elsewhere presented, I have here to speak 
of the magical, sometimes horrible whale-line. 

The line originally used in the fishery was of the best 
hemp, slightly vapoured with tar, not impregnated with 
it, as in the case of ordinary ropes ; for while tar, as 
ordinarily used, makes the hemp more pliable to the rope- 
maker, and also renders the rope itself more convenient 
to the sailor for common ship use ; yet, not only would 
the ordinary quantity too much stiffen the whale-line for 
the close coiling to which it must be subjected ; but as 
most seamen are beginning to learn, tar in general by 
no means adds to the rope's durability or strength, how- 
ever much it may give it compactness and gloss. 

Of late years the Manilla rope has in the American 
fishery almost entirely superseded hemp as a material 
for whale-lines ; for, though not so durable as hemp, it 
is stronger, and far more soft and elastic ; and I will add 
(since there is an aesthetics in all things), is much more 
handsome and becoming to the boat, than hemp. Hemp 
is a dusky, dark fellow, a sort of Indian ; but Manilla 
is as a golden-haired Circassian to behold. 

The whale-line is only two-thirds of an inch in thickness. 
At first sight, you would not think it so strong as it really 
is. By experiment its one and fifty yarns will each sus- 
pend a weight of one hundred and twenty pounds ; so 

VOL. i. z 


that the whole rope will bear a strain nearly equal to three 
tons. In length, the common sperm whale-line measures 
something over two hundred fathoms. Toward the 
stern of the boat it is spirally coiled away in the tub, not 
like the worm-pipe of a still though, but so as to form one 
round, cheese-shaped mass of densely bedded 'sheaves,' 
or layers of concentric spiralisations, without any hollow 
but the 'heart/ or minute vertical tube formed at the 
axis of the cheese. As the least tangle or kink in the 
coiling would, in running out, infallibly take somebody's 
arm, leg, or entire body off, the utmost precaution is 
used in stowing the line in its tub. Some harpooneers 
will consume almost an entire morning in this business, 
carrying the line high aloft and then reeving it downward 
through a block toward the tub, so as in the act of coiling 
to free it from all possible wrinkles and twists. 

In the English boats two tubs are used instead of one ; 
the same line being continuously coiled in both tubs. 
There is some advantage in this ; because these twin -tubs 
being so small they fit more readily into the boat, and do 
not strain it so much ; whereas, the American tub, nearly 
three feet in diameter and of proportionate depth, makes 
a rather bulky freight for a craft whose planks are but 
one half-inch in thickness ; for the bottom of the whale- 
boat is like critical ice, which will bear up a considerable 
distributed weight, but not very much of a concentrated 
one. When the painted canvas cover is clapped on the 
American line-tub, the boat looks as if it were pulling off 
with a prodigious great wedding-cake to present to the 

Both ends of the line are exposed ; the lower end 
terminating in an eye -splice or loop coming up from the 
bottom against the side of the tub, and hanging over 
its edge completely disengaged from everything. This 
arrangement of the lower end is necessary on two accounts. 


First : In order to facilitate the fastening to it of an 
additional line from a neighbouring boat, in case the 
stricken whale should sound so deep as to threaten to 
carry off the entire line originally attached to the har- 
poon. In these instances, the whale of course is shifted 
like a mug of ale, as it were, from the one boat to the 
other ; though the first boat always hovers at hand to 
assist its consort. Second : This arrangement is indis- 
pensable for common safety's sake ; for were the lower 
end of the line in any way attached to the boat, and were 
the whale then to run the line out to the end almost in a 
single, smoking minute as he sometimes does, he would 
not stop there, for the doomed boat would infallibly 
be dragged down after him into the profundity of the sea ; 
and in that case no town -crier would ever find her again. 

Before lowering the boat for the chase, the upper end 
of the line is taken aft from the tub, and passing round the 
logger-head there, is again carried forward the entire 
length of the boat, resting crosswise upon the loom or 
handle of every man's oar, so that it jogs against his wrist 
in rowing ; and also passing between the men, as they 
alternately sit at the opposite gunwales, to the leaded 
chocks or grooves in the extreme pointed prow of the boat, 
where a wooden pin or skewer the size of a common quill, 
prevents it from slipping out. From the chocks it hangs 
in a slight festoon over the bows, and is then passed inside 
the boat again ; and some ten or twenty fathoms (called 
box-line) being coiled upon the box in the bows, it con- 
tinues its way to the gunwale still a little further aft, and 
is then attached to the short -warp the rope which is 
immediately connected with the harpoon ; but previous 
to that connection, the short -warp goes through sundry 
mystifications too tedious to detail. 

Thus the whale-line folds the whole boat in its compli- 
cated coils, twisting and writhing around it in almost 


every direction. All the oarsmen are involved in its 
perilous contortions ; so that to the timid eye of the 
landsman, they seem as Indian jugglers, with the deadliest 
snakes sportively festooning their limbs. Nor can any 
son of mortal woman, for the first time, seat himself amid 
those hempen intricacies, and while straining his utmost 
at the oar, bethink him that at any unknown instant the 
harpoon may be darted, and all these horrible contortions 
be put in play like ringed lightnings ; he cannot be thus 
circumstanced without a shudder that makes the very 
marrow in his bones to quiver in him like a shaken jelly. 
Yet habit strange thing ! what cannot habit accom- 
plish ? Gayer sallies, more merry mirth, better jokes, 
and brighter repartees, you never heard over your 
mahogany, than you will hear over the half-inch white 
cedar of the whale-boat, when thus hung in hangman's 
nooses ; and, like the six burghers of Calais before King 
Edward, the six men composing the crew pull into the 
jaws of death, with a halter around every neck, as you 
may say. 

Perhaps a very little thought will now enable you to 
account for those repeated whaling disasters some few 
of which are casually chronicled of this man or that man 
being taken out of the boat by the line, and lost. For, 
when the line is darting out, to be seated then in the boat 
is like being seated in the midst of the manifold whizzings 
of a steam-engine in full play, when every flying beam, 
and shaft, and wheel, is grazing you. It is worse ; for 
you cannot sit motionless in the heart of these perils, 
because the boat is rocking like a cradle, and you are 
pitched one way and the other, without the slightest 
warning ; and only by a certain self-adjusting buoyancy 
and simultaneousness of volition and action can you 
escape being made a Mazeppa of, and run away with where 
the all-seeing sun himself could never pierce you out. 


Again : as the profound calm which only apparently 
precedes and prophesies of the storm is perhaps more 
awful than the storm itself ; for, indeed, the calm 
is but the wrapper and envelope of the storm ; and con- 
tains it in itself, as the seemingly harmless rifle holds the 
fatal powder, and the ball, and the explosion ; so the 
graceful repose of the line, as it silently serpentines about 
the oarsmen before being brought into actual play this 
is a thing which carries more of true terror than any other 
aspect of this dangerous affair. But why say more ? 
All men live enveloped in whale -lines. All are born with 
halters round their necks ; but it is only when caught 
in the swift, sudden turn of death, that mortals realise 
the silent, subtle, ever-present perils of life. And if you 
be a philosopher, though seated in the whale-boat, you 
would not at heart feel one whit more of terror, than 
though seated before your evening fire with a poker, and 
not a harpoon, by your side. 




PS Melville,, Herman 

2384 Moby-Dick